NTSB Identification: ERA14LA253
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, May 22, 2014 in Hopkinsville, KY
Aircraft: PIPER J3C - 65, registration: N46777
Injuries: 1 Serious,1 Minor.

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 May 22, 2014, about 1345 central daylight time, a Piper J3C-65, N46777, was substantially damaged during a forced landing shortly after takeoff from Hopkinsville-Christian county Airport (HVC), Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The private pilot sustained serious injuries while the passenger sustained minor injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal, local flight Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated about 1 minute earlier from HVC.

The pilot stated that the purpose of the flight was to take his son for a local flight. He demonstrated to him a detailed preflight inspection, which included a check of the fuel tank and fuel strainer for contaminants; no sediment or water was detected. He was seated in the front seat and his son was in the rear seat. At that time the airplane had 10 gallons of 100LL fuel. After engine start the airplane was taxied to the approach end of runway 26 where he performed an engine run-up before takeoff. There were no issues identified during the run-up, and he reported that the left magneto drop was 50 rpm and the right magneto drop was 150 rpm. During the run-up he also checked the carburetor heat, and reported that the, "engine ran up just fine."

After the engine run-up he called on the UNICOM and announced his departure from runway 26. With a wind 30 degrees to the right of the nose at 5 to 8 knots, he applied takeoff power and based on his years of experience felt like the engine was developing full power. The airplane became airborne in about the usual time, or just before midfield, and he began climbing out between 40 to 50 miles-per-hour (normal). About 10 to 15 seconds later, when the flight was about 100 feet above ground level (agl) and about ΒΌ of the runway remaining, he noticed the engine was not developing full power; the tachometer indicated 1,900 rpm. He reported that the engine was not missing but it was not developing full power. He verified that the throttle was full forward, the mixture control was full rich, and the carburetor heat was off. At 1,900 rpm there was just enough power to maintain altitude, but not enough to climb. He initiated a shallow turn intended to try to land on a taxiway but during the turn he lost altitude and abandoned the idea. With a tree line ahead he flew through a gap, and then turned to land on Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway; reporting there was no traffic on it.

He maneuvered slightly to avoid a light pole, and during the forced landing attempt, the right wing which was over a guard-rail hit a tree, causing the airplane to be pulled to the right over the guard-rail. He was thrown into the instrument panel and knocked unconscious, but his son who remained conscious turned off the fuel shutoff valve because of fuel leakage, and also pulled him from the wreckage. He confirmed the accident flight was the first flight that day, and with respect to the loss of engine power, the engine did not react like it had ingested water; there was no spitting or sputtering.

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