NTSB Identification: WPR12LA306
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, July 16, 2012 in Rockford, ID
Aircraft: CESSNA 172N, registration: N5204K
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On July 16, 2012, at 0950 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 172N, N5204K, experienced a loss of engine power in cruise flight. The pilot subsequently made a forced landing in an open field near Rockford, Idaho. During the landing, the airplane came to rest inverted. The certified flight instructor (CFI) operated the rental airplane from Teton Leasing, LLC, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The CFI and student pilot were not injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings and tail section. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight that departed Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA), Idaho Falls, Idaho, at 0835. The flight was destined for IDA, and a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan had been filed.

In the CFI’s statement, he reported that he and the student performed a preflight of the airplane. The flight would take them from IDA to Arco-Butte County Airport (AOC), Arco, Idaho, onto McCarley Field Airport (U02), Blackfoot, Idaho, and back to IDA. No discrepancies were noted with the run-up or takeoff, and the flight to AOC was normal. Upon arrival at AOC, they performed a go-around, and then a touch-and-go landing. The CFI stated that after the landing, they departed for U02. About 12 miles northwest of U02, the engine began to vibrate and the engine revolutions dropped to approximately 1,900 rpm. Carburetor heat was applied, and the mixture was set to rich. They verified that the fuel selector was in the BOTH position. The CFI reported that the airplane was not able to maintain altitude, and that they would not make U02, so they decided to divert for a forced landing at Rockford Municipal Airport (2U4).

Upon arrival at 2U4, they were able to overfly the airport and determined the winds were calm, and elected to land on runway 16. The approach was too high and with too much airspeed, and they had to abort the landing. As the airplane departed the airport boundary, it cleared power lines, and the CFI reported that the only place to land was a wheat field directly ahead of them. The CFI recalled hearing the stall warning horn, and, as the airplane’s main landing gear contacted the wheat, there was a sudden deceleration, the airplane’s nose pitched down, and the airplane came to rest inverted.

The airplane was inspected by an airworthiness inspect from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The visual inspection of the engine revealed no catastrophic failures; however, during the compression check, the numbers 2 and 3 cylinders had no compression. A closer inspection of the number 3 cylinder revealed damage to the piston, and the exhaust valve was not present. The intake tubes for the numbers 2 and 3 cylinders, as well as the exhaust system for the engine, were removed. With the exhaust section removed, the FAA inspector was able to see the head of the missing valve embedded into the cylinder head; the valve stem was also missing and more than likely had exited the airplane while in flight. Inspection of the number 2 cylinder revealed a large amount of metal dust and debris in the intake and exhaust ports.

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