On December 22, 1996, at 1245 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-140, N55228, was substantially damaged during a forced after takeoff from the Ellington Airport, Ellington, Connecticut. The certificated flight instructor and private pilot were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the instructional flight that originated at Ellington. No flight plan had been filed for the local flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

In the NTSB Form 6120.1/2, the flight instructor stated that the preflight, engine start, and run-up were normal. The private pilot then taxied the airplane to runway 19, and performed a soft field takeoff. The flight instructor further stated:

"...[the pilot] rotated at about 65 MPH and started to accelerate to 80 MPH. Right before 80 MPH we had a sudden loss of power, immediately I looked over and saw a sudden drop of RPM... [the pilot] applied carb heat with no effect...[the pilot] then told me, we had no power. I then took control and landed in a field less than a 1/4 mile away from the end of the runway."

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector, examination of the airplane revealed no preimpact failure of the engine or airframe. The airplane was approved for the use of auto fuel, and a sample of the fuel contained no contaminants. A post accident engine run was successfully completed.

In the FAA Inspector's statement, he said:

"...Information gathered during the investigation indicates that there was moisture in the engine air inlet system between the air filter and the carburetor air box...The aircraft had been tied down outside during a period of very severe weather in which it was exposed to wind blown snow in one storm and driving rain in another storm. This weather had occurred between the time the aircraft was last flown and the flight when the accident happened...At the time of the accident the outside air temperature was below freezing and the moisture in the duct would be ice. The engine was run during the preflight and may have loosened the ice in the inlet...

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