On December 27, 1993, at 1130 central standard time (CST), a Piper PA-28-160, N5894W, registered to Michael J. Lyter of Little Falls, Minnesota, and piloted by a private pilot was substantially damaged during a collision with the ground while maneuvering for a forced landing following a reported engine failure. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight was not operating on a flight plan. The pilot reported serious injuries, the student pilot rated passenger reported minor injuries. The flight originated from Little Falls, Minnesota, at 1125 CST.

The pilot and passenger stated the engine operated normally during takeoff and initial climb from Runway 30 (4,000' X 75' asphalt) at the Little Falls-Morrison County Airport, Little Falls, Minnesota. According to the pilot, the engine stopped running when the airplane was approximately 200 feet above the ground. As the pilot was turning the airplane to the left, with the intention of landing on a cross runway, it stalled and struck the ground in a pitch down attitude with its left wing low.

Prior to the accident flight, N5894W had been hangared in a heated hangar due to below zero weather conditions. The pilot said he had drained fuel from N5894W's fuel tanks while it was in the hangar. According to the pilot, water was not found during the fuel check process. Shortly after removal from the hangar, N5894W was started and taxied for departure. The student pilot's written statement on NTSB Form 6120.1/2 stated that he and the other pilot had intended to perform two touch and go's.

An on-scene investigation was conducted by a Federal Aviation Administration Principal Operations Inspector (POI). According to the POI's pilot interviews it was determined that the student pilot was in the left seat. His investigation revealed the airplane had been fueled with auto gas. Ice crystals were found in the fuel sample removed from the right wing fuel tank.

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