On June 21, 2000 at 1828 hours Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 172N, N7598D landed hard during an emergency return to runway 19L following a loss of engine power in the takeoff initial climb at the Santa Ana, California, airport. The certified flight instructor (CFI) and the student pilot were not injured. The airplane, operated by Sunrise Aviation, sustained substantial damage. The local area instructional flight was being flown under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 when the accident occurred. The flight originated at Santa Ana moments before the accident. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed.

The flight instructor said that this particular flight was going to be the student pilot's second solo flight. He stated he planned to do three full stop landings with the student prior to having him practice the solo landings. The pilot said they checked the fuel and drained it prior to the flight and that it looked "ok," and that the engine run-up was satisfactory. About 300 feet agl in the takeoff initial climb, the instructor noticed that the engine was running very rough and that the rpm's had dropped to about 1,700. He declared a "mayday" and told the tower they had a loss of power and were circling back to runway one right. He initiated a right turn to the runway and the control tower responded to the radio call "unable due to departing traffic." The CFI said that moments after this the engine rpm dropped completely and he elected to continue the turn, and determined he was not going to be able to make the runway. He said he set the airplane down on a grass area between the two runways. The airplane touched down on the right wingtip and right main gear, then bounced back into the air and came down on the nose gear, which collapsed.

The Safety Board was notified of the accident on July 11, 2000.

In his report of the accident, the pilot stated, "the engine ingested the No. 4 cylinder exhaust valve."

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