NTSB Identification: LAX96LA167.
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Accident occurred Saturday, April 13, 1996 in LAKE HAVASU CTY, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/20/1996
Aircraft: Maule M-5-235C, registration: N9177E
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

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

The pilot owned and operated the seaplane and had flown it for 803 hours. During the dark nighttime cruise flight, the engine began surging and then gradually lost power. The pilot planned to make a forced landing at the shoreline of the Colorado River; however, during landing the airplane slid on the grass bank and impacted a 3-foot-high tree trunk. The airplane was subsequently examined, and the following discrepancies were found: (1) Sediment was observed in the fuel filter and carburetor; (2) The number 3 cylinder intake valve was found open and stretched in excess of 0.200 inches; (3) No compression was obtained from the number 3 cylinder; (4) The engine oil was black in color; (5) The magneto's drive end seal bearing was found leaking oil; (6) The left set of points were oil fouled, and the right set of points had oil on the contacts and were coked up; and (7) The left distributor gear was missing a gear tooth.

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

the pilot-owner's inadequate engine maintenance which resulted in a progressive ignition failure. Factors which contributed to the accident were the dark nighttime light condition and the presence of hidden obstructions in the forced landing area.

Full narrative available

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