NTSB Identification: ATL97FA115.
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Accident occurred Monday, August 11, 1997 in TALLAHASSEE, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/04/1998
Aircraft: Mooney M20F, registration: N3455X
Injuries: 2 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.

During cruise flight at 5,000 feet msl in night visual conditions, the pilot reported a rough engine. ATC provided vectors to the nearest airport. Before reaching the airport, the engine quit. A forced landing was made about 2 miles short of the airport in a densely wooded area. After colliding with trees, the airplane impacted the ground, inverted. A postcrash ground fire destroyed the airplane. The engine crankshaft was found fractured through the #1 rod journal. Fracture features were mechanically damaged; the precise origin of the fracture could not be determined during a metallurgical examination. Examination of the airplane and engine records revealed no evidence of a propeller strike or previous impact damage.

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

fatigue failure of the crankshaft for undetermined reasons. Related factors were: darkness, and obstructions (trees) in the emergency landing area.

Full narrative available

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