NTSB Identification: IAD02FA086.
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Accident occurred Saturday, August 17, 2002 in Plainville, CT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/30/2003
Aircraft: Cessna 172S, registration: N35073
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.

Several witnesses observed black smoke trailing the airplane immediately after takeoff, and one witness saw a "small orange ball" immediately behind the propeller. One witness also noticed that the engine noise had changed, as if the engine had experienced a power reduction, another heard the engine "cut-out," and a third heard the engine "sputter." About 400 feet, a nose-high, left turn was initiated back towards the airport, and the airplane subsequently "banked steeply downward" until it impacted the ground. The wreckage path was about 70 feet in length. Due to the severity of a post-impact fire, the origin of the in-flight fire and loss of engine power could not be determined.

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

An in-flight engine compartment fire of unknown origin, and a loss of engine power for undetermined reasons. Also causal, was the pilot's failure to maintain airspeed during a turn back to the airfield, which resulted in an inadvertent stall and subsequent impact with the ground.

Full narrative available

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