NTSB Identification: SEA97LA116.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, May 20, 1997 in HYSHAM, MT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/10/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-140, registration: N32142
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.

The pilot reported that while in cruise flight, he heard a 'pop' from the engine and then felt a vibration. The engine lost partial power and the pilot tried to troubleshoot to find the problem. The pilot was unable to identify the problem and maneuvered the airplane to a nearby airstrip. The pilot stated that he tried twice to land on the 2,950-foot-long airstrip, however, each time the airplane's altitude was too high. The pilot opted to divert to an open field where he maneuvered the airplane to avoid obstructions. During the landing, the landing gear was sheared off and the wings were structurally damaged. During the postcrash inspection of the engine, the number three exhaust valve was found broken at the neck. The head of the valve was found lodged in the exhaust manifold.

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

A failure of an engine exhaust valve and the pilot's misjudgement of altitude/distance during an emergency landing at an airstrip.

Full narrative available

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