NTSB Identification: CHI95LA293.
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Accident occurred Sunday, September 03, 1995 in CEDAR SPRINGS, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/01/1996
Aircraft: PATIN CHALLENGER II, registration: N4281D
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

WITNESSES STATED THE HOMEBUILT AIRPLANE'S ENGINE BEGAN SPUTTERING DURING ITS INITIAL CLIMB AFTER TAKEOFF AND THE AIRPLANE CIRCLED BACK TOWARD THE AIRPORT FOR A LANDING. DURING ITS APPROACH THE AIRPLANE'S TAIL WHEEL STRUCK A POWER LINE AND THE AIRPLANE PITCHED DOWN AND COLLIDED WITH THE GROUND. THE ON-SCENE INVESTIGATION REVEALED CONTROL CABLE CONTINUITY WITH THEIR RESPECTIVE CONTROL SURFACES, AND FOUR FOULED SPARK PLUGS, TWO THAT HAD NO VISIBLE ELECTRODE GAP. THE PILOT SAID THE PLUGS DIDN'T HAVE TO BE CLEANED OR CHANGED UNTIL THEY OPERATED FOR 50 HOURS. THE PILOT SAID THE PLUGS HAD BEEN USED ABOUT 50 HOURS. AN ENGINE MANUFACTURER'S REPRESENTATIVE SAID THE PLUGS NEED TO BE CHANGED AFTER 25 HOURS OF ENGINE RUNNING TIME. THE REPRESENTATIVE SAID THE ENGINE MUST BE DECARBONIZED AFTER 50 HOURS OF OPERATION. THE PROCEDURE IS TO INSPECT THE ENGINE AFTER DISMANTLING THE CYLINDERS, HEADS, AND PISTONS. THE OWNER/PILOT SAID HE CHECKED FOR CARBONIZATION BY LOOKING IN THE EXHAUST PORT. THE REPRESENTATIVE SAID THIS IS NOT THE CORRECT PROCEDURE.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

inadequate engine maintenance by the owner/pilot-mechanic. Factors associated with the accident were fouled spark plugs and the pilot not being able to maintain proper altitude/clearance between his airplane and the electrical power lines during his landing approach.

Full narrative available

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