On June 1, 2000, at 0200 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28-180, N7271W, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain following a loss of engine power after takeoff from the Richard Lloyd Jones Jr. Airport, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The private pilot and three passengers sustained serious injuries and one passenger sustained minor injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight, and a flight plan was not filed. The cross-country flight was originating at the time of the accident and was destined for the Meadow Lake Airport, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

According to the private pilot, on May 31, 2000, he flew the airplane from Colorado Springs to Tulsa, arrived at 2355, and experienced no anomalies with the airplane during the flight. He met his brother, who was a certified flight instructor (CFI), and his brother's three children upon arrival and prepared for a return flight to Colorado Springs. On June 1, 2000, at 0130 he topped off the fuel tanks with 38.24 gallons of 100LL type fuel from a self-serve fuel pump, added oil to bring the oil level to 6 quarts, and preflighted the airplane. He then loaded his brother and the children into the airplane, taxied to runway 01L, performed a run-up, noted no anomalies, and departed.

The pilot reported that the airplane was climbing through 1,100 feet msl (462 feet agl) when "he noticed a hot smell and felt that something was wrong," subsequently, the engine lost total power. The pilot searched for a location to land and the CFI completed the emergency procedures for an engine re-start; however, the engine did not re-start. A witness, who was pilot-rated, added that during the initial takeoff climb the engine began "missing badly." The pilot relinquished control of the airplane to the CFI and a forced landing was executed. During the forced landing, the airplane contacted a tree and came to a stop upright between a highway and a riverbank. Both wings separated from the airframe and the fuselage was buckled.

A sample of fuel was captured from the right wing fuel tank. It was blue and free of contaminants. A fuel sample from the left wing fuel tank could not be captured due to the integrity of the tank having been compromised during impact. A fuel sample from the self-serve pump reservoir was sent to BP Oil Company, Cleveland, Ohio, for testing. According to the test report, the test was accomplished in accordance with ASTM D-910 and the sample met "all BP Oil manufacturing specifications."

According to the airframe logbook, the airframe underwent its last annual inspection on May 4, 1999, at a total time of 2,638.00 flight hours. The Textron Lycoming O-360-A3A engine (serial number L-2012-36) underwent its last 100-hour inspection on May 4, 1999, at a total time of 2,638.00 hours and 1,475.00 hours since overhaul. The airplane had accumulated a total of 2679.57 flight hours and the engine had accumulated a total of 1516.57 hours since overhaul, at the time of the accident. Additionally, no open maintenance discrepancies were found in the airframe and engine logbooks.

The airplane and engine were examined at Air Salvage of Dallas, Lancaster, Texas, by the NTSB Investigator-In-Charge, an FAA inspector, a representative from Textron Lycoming, and a representative from The New Piper Aircraft. The cockpit was examined and the ignition key was found separated in the ignition and was at the BOTH position. The flaps were in the retracted position and the cockpit fuel selector was found in the left tank position. The throttle was found in the idle cutoff position, the mixture was in the full rich position, and the carburetor heat control was in the OFF position. The fuel boost pump switch was in the OFF position.

The fuel lines from each wing root to the gascolator were pressurized. The fuel selector was rotated through the RH, LH, and BOTH positions, and air was observed coming through the line into the gascolator at each position. The left wing and right wing fuel caps were tight, the seals were not compromised, and each of the fuel vents was clear. The electric fuel pump was damaged by impact. The pump did not operate when an electrical current was supplied via a test bench stand. The pump's fuel screen was removed and observed to be free of contaminants.

The engine was examined. The propeller was rotated and continuity was confirmed to the accessory drive gears. A differential compression check was accomplished and revealed that the number 1 cylinder had a reading of 75/80, the number 3 cylinder had a reading of 70/80, the number 2 cylinder had a reading of 50/80, and the number 4 cylinder had a reading of 22/80. The left magneto was timed at 24 degrees and the right magneto was timed at 20 degrees, both within manufacturers specifications. The air filter was displaced aft and its element was pushed aft into the intake hose, which was collapsed. The propeller was removed and the propeller seal was loose and small oil leakage was noted. The oil dipstick was removed and there were 4 quarts of oil indicated on the dipstick. The oil filter was removed, examined, and found to be free of contaminants. The carburetor was damaged at impact; however, its one piece venturi remained in place. Additionally, there was no blockage of intake or exhaust tubes.

The engine was sent to the Textron Lycoming manufacturing plant in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to be test run. According to the test run report from Textron Lycoming, upon initial examination the "engine rotation, continuity, and borescope inspections were normal," and "the internal timing was set correctly." The report noted that the right magneto distributor block, #2 bottom ignition lead terminal was found corroded with the spring missing. Each ignition harness lead fired when tested, except for the #2 and #4 bottom leads. The engine was then placed in a test cell. The engine was started and run at the manufacturer's required test points, for a duration of 25 minutes. The engine displayed "normal" acceleration during this period. The rated rpm was found to be 120 rpms low. The left magneto displayed an 80-rpm drop and the right magneto displayed a 417-rpm drop at 2200 rpms. According to the test run report, "the low rated rpm and high right magneto rpm drop are consistent with the corrosion found on the distributor block of the right magneto and the ignition leads that would not spark when tested."

The two front seats of the airplane were equipped with shoulder harnesses and lap belts. The two rear seats in the airplane were equipped with lap belts only. The pilot reported that the two front seat occupants were not wearing the shoulder harnesses at the time of the accident, due to an "unsafe fit." He reported that two of the children in the right rear seat were sharing a lap belt and the remaining child was using her own lap belt. He stated that all lap belts were secured during loading of the airplane. However, the children passengers were interviewed by an FAA inspector following the accident and they reported that they were not wearing the lap belts. One of the children stated that the lap belt was "broken" and she was told to "just leave the seatbelt off," and another child reported that when she could not find the seatbelt she was told "not to worry about it."

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