NTSB Identification: FTW97LA185.
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Accident occurred Friday, May 09, 1997 in TORREON, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/30/1998
Aircraft: Mooney M20C, registration: N7853V
Injuries: 1 Minor,1 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.

While in cruise flight at 8,500 feet msl, the pilot reported that he observed his oil pressure gauge 'indicating at or near zero.' He stated that he called ATC and began looking for a place to land. He then noticed that the 'oil temperature had begun to rise and the engine was running slightly rougher.' As he approached a highway on which he planned to land, 'the prop governor ceased to regulate the engine RPM and the engine begain to smell really hot.' On landing roll, the pilot stated that 'a gust of wind caused me to depart the left side of the road and the airplane subsequently impacted several sandy knolls.' Postimpact examination of the engine revealed an aluminum ball in the number four cylinder forward piston pin bore. Investigators stated that 'this was the result of the piston pin plug working in the bore for an extended period of time.' This would account for metal particles throughout the oil system and a rub mark on the interior of the cylinder wall. The oil journal leading to the number two cylinder was found with metal particles emanating from it and the number two and number three connecting rod bearings showed significant damage.

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

failure of the forward number four piston pin plug, and the subsequent obstruction of internal oil passages of the lubricating system, which resulted in partial loss of engine power. Factors relating to the accident were: the crosswind condition and lack of suitable terrain for an emergency (precautionary) landing.

Full narrative available

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