NTSB Identification: LAX02LA197.
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Accident occurred Friday, June 14, 2002 in Brownsville, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/29/2004
Aircraft: Piper PA-22-135, registration: N3329B
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 impacted terrain during an attempted return to runway maneuver following a loss of engine power shortly after departing the airstrip. A witness observed the pilot takeoff and, when the airplane was about 800 feet above ground level, he heard the engine sputter. The airplane made a turn to the left, which was consistent with the pilot attempting to return back to the runway. The engine stopped completely, and the airplane's bank attitude increased. As the airplane continued in a turn, the airspeed became slow and the left wing appeared to lose lift. The airplane stalled into the ground, with the nose impacting the terrain vertically. Upon impact, a post impact fire consumed the airplane. The pilot's neighbor recalled talking to the pilot about 15 minutes prior to the accident flight. She stated that the pilot expressed to her that he was having trouble with the airplane, and that he could not seem to identify what the problem was. The pilot was reportedly performing the maintenance on the airplane. The airplane's engine had been running rough, which the pilot was attributing to be a result of water in the fuel system, or due to a carburetor problem. No mechanical discrepancies were found in the thermally destroyed wreckage.

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

a loss of engine power for undetermined reasons. Also causal was the pilot's failure to maintain an adequate airspeed during a turn to reverse course back to the runway, resulting in a stall and collision with terrain.

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