On June 15, 1998, about 1755 Central Daylight Time, a Bellanca BL-17-31A, N39853, collided with terrain during a forced landing near Millry, Alabama. The airplane was operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91, and visual flight rules. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The private pilot and sole occupant was not injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight originated from Dekalb-Peachtree Airport in Atlanta, Georgia at 1645 Eastern Daylight Time for Corpus Christi, Texas.

According to the pilot, while in cruise flight, the engine noise changed as the engine appeared to lose 15 to 30 percent of its power. According to the pilot, a moderate vibration began a few seconds later causing him to reduce power to idle and execute a forced landing. Upon landing, the pilot stated, "the field had lots of washboard effect."

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors who examined the wreckage, the airplane skidded approximately 300-320 yards upon landing. In an attempt to avoid a collision with a tree/fence row, the pilot attempted to turn the aircraft to the left. Inspector's noted the right main landing gear collapsed, the right main fuel cell punctured, main right wing wood spar broken at the fuselage attachment point, bending of the right fuselage stringers and 36" of the right wingtip was torn from the airframe. Examination of the aircraft engine revealed a fractured #2 cylinder connecting rod, #2 piston jammed in the cylinder and a bent #2 cylinder intake valve pushrod.

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