On August 19, 2000, at 1715 Eastern Daylight Time, a Cessna 152, N67495, was substantially damaged during a forced landing after takeoff from Culpeper Regional Airport (CJR), Culpeper, Virginia. The certificated student pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the solo cross country flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The pilot departed from Shannon Airport (EZF), Fredricksburg, Virginia, for a "round robin" cross-country flight. He planned to stop at the Farmville Regional Airport, the Louisa County Airport, the Culpeper Regional Airport, and then return to EZF.

According to the pilot's written statement, he said:

"The entire flight, up to and including the landing at Culpeper, went as planned. After landing on runway 04 at Culpeper, I back-taxied on runway 04 for departure on that runway. After back taxing, I checked the fuel shut off valve, all of the flight instruments, and all of the electrical components. Everything was normal. I went to full throttle and began rolling down runway 04. I lifted off and began climbing at 70 knots. At approximately 50 feet off the runway the engine RPMs suddenly, rapidly, and smoothly dropped to an estimated 1700 RPMs. I immediately tried to retard the throttle fully so that I could land back on runway 04 but there was no response. The RPMs were stuck at about 1700. There was not enough power to climb and too much power to land. The runway was now behind me and I realized I would have to make an emergency landing. I pulled the mixture to lean/cut off, announced my intentions to Culpeper traffic, and made an emergency landing in the field beyond runway 04. I rolled for approximately 100 feet before the nose gear hit a hole."

In a subsequent telephone interview, the pilot described the partial power loss "as if the throttle was pulled back." The pilot reported there was no "coughing," or "backfiring," associated with the power reduction. The engine maintained a constant speed of 1700 RPMs, despite the pilots attempts to advance and retard the throttle. Additionally, the pilot turned the fuel selector and the master switch to their "off" positions before exiting the airplane.

An on-scene examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed no fuel in the fuel strainer, sump drain, or carburetor; however, both fuel tanks were "about half full." The FAA inspector observed no obstructions or leaks in the fuel lines. Additionally, it was noted that the throttle linkage had become disconnected from the throttle. The attaching hardware was not found.

The airplane was removed from the accident site and examined further at a hangar. The throttle linkage was reconnected to the throttle and 3 to 5 gallons of fuel was added to the fuel tank. The engine started and fuel was observed in the shut-off valve, fuel strainer, and carburetor. The throttle was then increased to 2000 RPM, and the fuel selector was turned to the "off" position. The engine stopped producing power "almost immediately." The engine was then restarted, the inspector disconnected the throttle linkage from the throttle, and the engine ran at about 1500 RPM.

According to the FAA inspector, an annual inspection was performed on the airplane on April 21, 2000. Since the inspection, the airplane had flown about 79.6 hours.

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