This is an excerpt from a report made to the Aviation Safety Reporting System. The narrative is written by the pilot, rather than FAA or NTSB officials. To maintain anonymity, many details, such as aircraft model or airport, are often scrubbed from the reports.
I was on an instrument training flight with my instructor. We were cruising at 4,000 feet MSL after a touch and go at ZZZ and were on a direct course to ZZZ1.
There was a rather abrupt “bump” and louder engine noise that was immediately followed by a steady moderate shaking of the plane and loss of RPMs.
My instructor and I immediately did a quick visual check for any obvious sources of the noise and/or shaking and my instructor assumed control of the airplane.
My instructor promptly notified ATC on our frequency that we were having engine trouble and descended until we were in solid visual meteorological conditions as nearby landing options were considered.
We conducted the checklist for a rough-running engine and nothing was resolved.
As part of the continued effort to troubleshoot, my instructor noticed that the cylinder head temperature for one of the cylinders was not providing a reading at all.
We were unable to maintain altitude and observed continued, slow loss of power.
ATC then directed us to the nearest airport, ZZZ2.
After being unable to locate the airport on our G1000 system, I found the airport on the VFR sectional as ATC provided vectors to the airport. ATC also notified us that there was no airport frequency and provided the weather for nearby ZZZ3.
We got visual contact with the airport and maintained altitude as we did a fly-over to assess the field conditions.
Satisfied with the conditions at the field, we maneuvered to land on the uphill, windward runway. The landing was performed without major difficulty and was a well-done soft-field landing. We were able to vacate the runway safely and without further incident.
There were no indications of engine trouble or malfunction prior to the incident in flight.
A thorough pre-flight was performed along with run-up and before takeoff checks in accordance with the checklists and no abnormalities were indicated.
As a low-time private pilot and student instrument pilot, this was an incredible learning opportunity and lesson that I will remember for the rest of my flying career.
It did a lot to reinforce the training I have received and showed me the value of requesting ATC help early in a situation.
The one negative aspect of the situation was our inability to contact the airfield owner and manager once on the ground. None of the numbers listed in the chart supplement were current and we ended up having to call the local law enforcement non-emergency number to get in touch with the airfield operator.
Primary Problem: Aircraft