NTSB Identification: ATL02LA055.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, February 26, 2002 in Port St. Lucie, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/25/2003
Aircraft: Krejci S-51D, registration: N51KK
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 observed on the takeoff roll by several witnesses. The engine was heard making a sound described as similar to a pop, slight burp, stumbling engine, slight miss, or a sound similar to dropping a cylinder like a belch. The tail wheel was observed to come off the ground and the engine was heard to make a missing sound and then smoothed out. The airplane became airborne and was observed to initiate a right turn followed by a steep turn back to the left estimated at about a 45-degree angle of bank. Both wing tips were visible to the witnesses. The airplane was at about 200 to 250 feet when it appeared to encounter a stall. It looked like the pilot initiated a recovery. The nose came up and the wings started to level. The airplane disappeared from view behind some tress and was heard to impact the terrain. Examination of the engine assembly revealed a hole in the vicinity of the No. 7 cylinder. The rocker cover was removed and the rocker arm for the exhaust valve was lying at an angle. The stud for the rocker arm was broken. A valve rocker retaining nut found at the crash site matched the broken end of the stud.

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

The pilots failure to maintain airspeed while maneuvering in an attempt to return to landing area (Emergency/ departure airport.) This resulted in an inadvertent stall and subsequent in-flight collision with terrain. Factor to the accident was a partial loss of engine power due to a failed exhaust valve.

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