On August 17, 1999, at 1615 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-180, N44547, piloted by a private pilot, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain following a forced landing after takeoff from runway 22 (2,225 feet by 100 feet, dry/turf) at the Harsens Island Airport, Harsens Island, Michigan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 and was not on a flight plan. The pilot reported no injuries to himself or to his one passenger. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was en route to the Oakland/Troy Airport, Troy Michigan.

The pilot reported that the aircraft experienced a loss of engine power immediately after takeoff. The pilot elected to land on the remaining runway. The aircraft ran off the end of the runway striking a berm and coming to rest in a pond. The aircraft remained in the water for approximately 40 hours.

At a postaccident examination, of the aircraft and accident site, was conducted by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector. The inspector stated that the "...runway surface was firm and [the] grass was approximately 2 inches long." The propeller was found to have a "... large gouge approximately 1/2 inches wide by 2 1/4 inches long perpendicular to the leading edge, approximately 13 inches from the tip." The engine primer was found in, fuel selector on the left fuel tank, throttle full aft, mixture full forward, carburetor heat off, flap-handle approximately 45 degrees up. The flap indicator was at the first indication from flaps full up. The inspector stated that he found the starter bendix engaged and that the starter was engaged with the engine ring gear. When rotated by hand, the engine turned with difficulty with the starter in place. When the starter was removed, the engine rotated "normally". A compression check was performed "... by rotating the propeller. Cylinders 2,3 and 4 had normal compression. Cylinder 1 had no compression." The accessory gears were found to rotate when the prop was turned. No other preexisting anomalies were found with respect to the aircraft.

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