On November 21, 2000, about 0930 central standard time, a Piper PA-32RT-300, N9658C, owned by Grady and Francis Inc., lost engine power and was forced to land in rough terrain near Wewahitchka, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and an IFR flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airline transport-rated pilot and two passengers reported no injuries. The flight departed from Orlando Executive Airport, Florida, at an unknown time, en route to Panama City, Florida.

According to the pilot he smelled something, and when he checked the instruments he noticed that the oil pressure had decreased. He felt that he could not make an on airport landing so he decided to land in rough terrain. At touchdown, the landing gear tore off, causing damage to the wings.

Examination of the engine revealed no visible oil on top of the engine, but oil was observed at the lower portion of the firewall.

The engine was torndown and examined at Atlanta Air Salvage, Griffin, George, under the supervision of Phil Power, Senior Air Safety Investigator, Atlanta, Georgia, on February 1, 2001. The examination revealed that the number 5 cylinder connecting rod had separated at the rod cap. The crankcase had a 3 inches by 1 ½ inch hole in the bottom of the case between the crankshaft and the oil sump at the number 5 location of the crankshaft. Pieces of the number 5 connecting rod cap, rod cap bolts, and nuts were recovered fragmented.

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