On September 25, 1998, at 2120 central daylight time, a Piper PA-34-220T, N900JH, operated by Wisconsin Aviation Incorporated, received substantial damage on impact with trees and terrain during a forced landing. The left engine experienced a total loss of engine power during initial climb out from runway 22 (3,085 feet by 100 feet, dry asphalt) at Wausau Downtown Airport (AUW), Wausau, Wisconsin. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at time of the accident. The 14 CFR 135 organ transport flight was operating on a flight plan. The airline transport rated pilot and three of four passengers reported minor injuries. The flight was originating at the time of the accident en route to Dane County Regional Airport, Madison, Wisconsin.

The pilot stated that, upon reaching the approach end of runway 22, he had completed his abbreviated preflight checklist, which included an "engine run up, magnetos, propellers, instruments and controls." The pilot reported that at the end of the runway, he placed his flashlight inside his coat pocket and pushed his flight bag between the front seats. The bag was described by the pilot as a canvas attache case with outside pockets and a strap. He reported that for the takeoff, the throttles were set to 31 inches of manifold pressure, the brakes were released and the aircraft was accelerated to approximately 72 knots with 38 inches of manifold pressure at which point it was rotated. The pilot stated that when he retracted the landing gear at a positive rate of climb, almost immediately, the left engine stopped. The pilot did not recall whether or not he feathered the left propeller after the left engine lost power. The pilot stated that the airspeed was decreasing from 83 knots with a sink rate of 200 feet per minute. He reported that he immediately advanced the throttles but did not recall if he advanced both or just the right throttle. He stated that only the right engine overboost light was illuminated and that the airspeed was holding fairly steady. He reported that he started a shallow turn to the left and the airspeed started to fall to about 76-78 knots. He stated that he turned towards runway 30 with a descent rate of 150-200 feet per minute and lowered the landing gear to avoid landing gear up on the runway. He reported that the aircraft impacted a tree which was straight ahead and then came to rest after "...several more jars...".

A passenger, seated behind the pilot and facing aft, reported that approximately 10-15 seconds after take-off the aircraft yawed to the left, and 10-30 seconds later the pilot announced that he had lost an engine. The witness also reported that the pilot was turning things off after the crash. The passenger stated that nobody asked for passenger weights prior to the flight. He also stated that the cooler containing the organs was sitting on the floor and was not strapped down.

A second passenger reported that at approximately 500-600 feet above ground level, the engine quit. She stated that after the crash, the pilot stated to her that he had a hard time controlling the airplane and could not maintain altitude. The passenger also stated that nobody asked for passenger weights prior to the flight.

The airport manager reported that he assisted fire personnel by checking the fuel system. He stated that he checked the fuel valves between the pilot and co-pilot seats and found that they were in the full rear position. He further stated that he was able to shut the right wing valve but was unable to move the left wing valve more than 1/4 inch forward. He also stated that the wreckage was located "at least" 1,500 feet bearing 330 degrees to the of the approach end of runway 30.

Examination of the aircraft by the Federal Aviation Administration found the controls of the throttle, propeller and mixture to be in their forward positions. Engine control continuity was established. The left engine propeller was not feathered and the landing gear was in the down position. Both fuel selectors, which are located between the pilot's and copilot's seats, were in the crossfeed position. The left engine from the aircraft was run on a test stand under the supervision of the Federal Aviation Administration and was found to operate. Further inspection of the aircraft revealed that there were no obstructions in the fuel lines or fuel filter screens.

The Flight Manifest for the accident flight shows a takeoff gross weight of 4,508 lbs with a maximum allowable take-off weight for the flight of 4,750 lbs.

The PA-34-220T Emergency Procedures for Engine Failure During Climb include placing the propeller into the feathered position.

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