On December 6, 1995, at 0813 eastern standard time, a Piper PA- 28-180, N180KH, collided with the ground as the pilot attempted a forced landing in a field one mile east of the Athens/Ben Epps Airport in Athens, Georgia. The business flight operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with an instrument flight plan filed. Instrument weather conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The airplane sustained substantial damage, and the pilot and passenger were seriously injured. The flight departed LaGrange, Georgia, at 0700 hours.

According to Atlanta Center, the instrument flight was at a cruise altitude of 7,000 feet when the pilot reported a loss of engine power. As the pilot established an emergency descent, the controller issued the flight radar vectors to the Athens Ben Epps Airport. The pilot continued the emergency descent and collided with the ground two miles east of the airport.

During the preliminary examination of the engine, a hole was discovered in the vicinity of the number 2 cylinder. Further examination of the engine assembly disclosed that, aluminum and abrasive ferrous flakes had circulated throughout the entire internal lubrication route. The examination also disclosed the failure of the number two connecting rod and bearing assemblies. Excessive wear was noted on the camshaft, valve tappets and piston pins. The teardowm examination also discovered that number 3 piston caps and cylinder wall were also scored.

A review of the aircraft maintenance logs revealed that the number 2 and the number 4 piston pin plugs were replaced and the oil system was flushed of aluminum flakes 6 days, and six flight hours before the accident. According to the mechanic, during the 100 hour inspection, metal flakes were discovered in the engine oil filter and strainer. His inspection of the engine determined that the piston end caps on number 2 and 4 cylinders were scored and had been rubbing the respective cylinder walls. The mechanic said he used a magnet to check the metal flakes for ferrous materials; no ferrous materials were recovered from the metal flakes.

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