On June 6, 1995, about 2345 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA- 34-200, N55362, operated by Russell Doug, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing near Rapid City, South Dakota. The airline transport rated pilot reported no injuries. The business flight, conducted under 14 CFR Part 91, originated in Garden City, Kansas at 0830 central daylight time. An IFR flight plan was filed and visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site.

The pilot reported he was flying in intermittent rain at 10,000 feet mean sea level. He turned on alternate air to both engines and noted the outside air temperature gauge indicated 43 degrees fahrenheit.

In his written statement, the pilot reported that he began losing rpm on the left engine. He elected not to feather the propeller because he believed he was getting "minimal rpm performance." Descending through 8,000 feet he noted the temperature was 39 to 40 degrees and the right engine dropped 200-300 rpm. He experienced fluctuations in the left engine as he descended through 6,000 feet. As he descended through 3,500 feet he slowed the airplane to 92 knots and made an off airport, forced landing with the landing gear in the up position.

The wreckage was examined by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector, who reported that fuel was available on the airplane. The left engine started uneventfully when it was tested and performed normally up to a manifold pressure of 25 inches of mercury.

The PA-34-200 pilot operator handbook specifies a single engine service ceiling of 3,700 feet for an airplane at a maximum gross weight of 4,200 pounds and 10,000 feet for an airplane weight of 3,400 pounds. A note in the handbook specifies that "the pilot may elect to attempt to restore power prior to feathering..single engine performance will decrease if the propeller of the inoperative engine is not feathered."

The icing probability chart in DOT/FAA/CT-82/44 specifies "severe icing at cruise power" at an ambient temperature of 43 degrees and 100 percent relative humidity.

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