NTSB Identification: NYC98LA056.
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Accident occurred Sunday, December 28, 1997 in FERNCLIFF, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/28/2000
Aircraft: Mooney M20F, registration: N9717M
Injuries: 2 Minor.

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 airplane was in cruise flight at 10,500 feet when the engine began to run rough. The pilot said after 30 seconds the engine seized and would not turn over. The airplane was 4 miles east of an airport at the time of the power loss, however, the pilot chose to turn towards an airport 20 miles to the north because it appeared on the 'Nearest Airport' display of the Loran equipment on board the airplane. The pilot determined he would not reach the intended airport and performed a forced landing to a field. Removal of the engine cowling revealed an oil soaked engine compartment and that 2 quarts of oil remained in the sump. The oil temperature probe was free of the engine case; attached only to the electrical lead. The threaded portion of the probe and its corresponding attachment point on the engine were undamaged. The probe's copper 'crush' washer displayed evidence of compression, however, no evidence of safety wire was found on the probe or the engine case. The engine was overhauled 30 days and 10 flight hours prior to the accident. The oil temperature probe was an airframe item that was removed and reinstalled after the engine overhaul.

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

the improper installation of the engine oil temperature probe which resulted in oil starvation and a total loss of engine power. A factor in the accident was the pilot's overflight of available airports in an effort to reach the 'Nearest Airport' displayed on his loran equipment during the subsequent forced landing.

Full narrative available

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