NTSB Identification: CHI96FA348.
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Accident occurred Sunday, September 22, 1996 in SAINT CLAIR, MN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/25/1997
Aircraft: Cessna 172F, registration: N5373R
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

A witness first heard the airplane make a backfiring sound. The witness then observed the airplane coming out of the north, heading south toward his house at low altitude. When the airplane was over his house, it turned to the southwest. The witness saw the airplane initiate a 'fast' left turn and then go straight down into a corn field. Another witness said the airplane went over their yard at about 500 to 600 feet above the ground and headed south to southwest rocking its wings slightly. The witness saw the airplane initiate a right turn to the west and said that the engine sound changed from banging to a sputter. The witness said the airplane continued its turn to the north and started come back toward them. A third witness said he saw the airplane go straight down into the corn field. He also said that the airplane 'got about half a turn,' toward the east before it hit. Examination of the wreckage revealed that the engine's #2 cylinder exhaust valve was stuck open.

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

a loss of power due to the engine's #2 cylinder exhaust valve stuck open, and the pilot's failure to maintain airspeed.

Full narrative available

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