On February 15, 2001, about 0945 hours Pacific standard time, a Beech 77, N18152, impacted trees and terrain during initial climb seconds after taking off from the Auburn Municipal Airport, Auburn, California. Sierra Nevada Flyers, Grass Valley, California, operated the airplane. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local area flight. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The private pilot received minor injuries. The personal flight was performed under 14 CFR Part 91.

In the pilot's completed report, he indicated that his private pilot certificate was obtained in a glider, and he held a student pilot certificate for airplanes. His last 90-day "proficiency check" was accomplished on December 21, 2000.

Regarding the accident flight, the pilot stated that the airplane's engine lost power after climbing between 250 and 300 feet above the runway. Immediately thereafter, he made one emergency call on the common air traffic frequency and applied the engine's carburetor heat. The airplane descended into a woody area.

The pilot also reported that no mechanical malfunctions or failures were experienced with the airplane. He indicated that the accident could have been prevented had he, before initiating his takeoff and while waiting for landing traffic, applied carburetor heat to the engine.

The airport manager reported that the impact site was about 1,500 feet beyond the departure end of runway 07. The manager also reported that at 1000 local time, the airport's automated surface observing system (ASOS) indicated that the temperature and dew point were 9 and 1 degree Celsius, respectively. The manager estimated that the accident had occurred about 1005.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigator notes that, according to a standard reference icing probability chart, the atmospheric conditions were in the range considered favorable for carburetor ice formation.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness inspector reported that a witness had reported observing the airplane near the approach end of the runway for about 10 minutes before taking off. Thereafter, full engine power was not obtained during the takeoff roll.

The FAA inspector examined the engine and accessories. In summary, the FAA inspector verbally reported to the Safety Board investigator that the engine's magnetos produced spark, and the impulse coupling functioned. The spark plugs appeared in the normal wear/coloration range. Compression was detected in all cylinders except number one, which was impact damaged. The induction system was devoid of foreign object blockage. The exhaust system was clear. The carburetor heat control was functional. Fuel was observed in the carburetor bowl.

Additionally, the FAA reported finding evidence that the mixture control cable had received maintenance following an earlier breakage event. The FAA indicated that the current rigging of the mixture control cable was improper due to its engine mount attachment. When the cable was repaired or replaced, it had been improperly repositioned and then reconnected. As a result, when the cockpit mixture control was set to the full rich position, the mixture control arm on the carburetor was between the midrange position and 2/3 of the way to the idle cutoff position. Due to the cable's incorrect rigging, the proper fuel/air combustion ratio may not have been established.

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