On October 8, 1994, at 1700 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 182N, owned and piloted by James P. Wheeler, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to an open field, near the New London Airport, New London, New Hampshire. The pilot received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the flight operating under 14 CFR 91.

In the NTSB 6120.1/2, the pilot stated he had departed Springfield, Vermont, with full fuel tanks for a flight to Eagles Nest Airport, New London, New Hampshire. Thirty minutes after takeoff, and approximately 3 miles from the Eagles Nest Airport, the engine began to run rough with violent backfiring. He further stated:

"...It failed completely approximately 60 seconds later and I executed an emergency landing in an open field. The ground was soft and slightly wet and the nose wheel dug in enough to break. The aircraft slid on its wheels for approximately 75 feet before slowing and tipping over inverted (nose over)..."

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector interviewed the pilot and summarized a statement. In the summary, the pilot stated that he was level at 2200 feet, a few miles from the destination airport when the engine lost power. He continued in a southeasterly direction toward the airport when the engine failed completely. The pilot selected a field, turned a low base to final, and made a "very hard" no flap landing to the northwest.

The airplane was removed to a local airport and the engine was started for a test run. In the FAA Inspector's report, it stated:

"...The engine started but ran very rough...The number four exhaust valve push rod was found to be broken (it was bent and severely worn)...The failed pushrod would have resulted in engine operating conditions similar to those described by the pilot...The failed pushrod was bent and severely worn prior to the failure. There was no evidence of any wear on the inside of the pushrod housing. The number four cylinder was removed and everything except for the pushrod appeared normal..."

The airplane records revealed that the engine had been overhauled within the last 90 flight hours.

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