On July 28, 2002, about 1950 eastern daylight time, a Bird CK, N99754, was substantially damaged during a forced landing after takeoff at the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD), Harrisonburg, Virginia. The certificated commercial pilot sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the local personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot, he departed from runway 23, a 6,000-foot long, 150-foot wide, asphalt runway. He stated that the takeoff and climb were normal, and that when the airplane was about 200 feet above the departure end of the runway, the engine lost total power. Due to insufficient runway length remaining, and no clear areas along the flight path, the pilot elected to attempt a 180-degree turn back toward a parallel taxiway near runway 23. As the airplane descended in the turn, it impacted two un-occupied airplanes in a tie-down area located south of the runway.

In addition, the pilot stated that the engine stopped without warning, and he did not observe any smoke, or hear strange noises.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, examination of the accident airplane revealed damage to the upper and lower wings, the engine, propeller, and main landing gear. The inspector also noted that when the fuel selector valve was selected from the "OFF" position, to the "ON" position, the engine would start, and run at idle power. When the throttle was advanced to 1,500 rpm, the engine would run for approximately 20 seconds before losing total power. When the fuel selector was selected 3/8-inches from the "OFF" position, the engine would run with no anomalies. Examination of the fuel valve revealed that it was not manufactured with detents.

A review of FAA-H-8083-3, Airplane Flying Handbook, revealed:

"...If an actual engine failure should occur immediately after takeoff and before a safe maneuvering altitude is attained, it is usually inadvisable to attempt to turn back to the field from where the takeoff was made. Instead, it is safer to immediately establish the proper glide attitude, and select a field directly ahead or slightly to either side of the takeoff path."

According to airport personnel at SHD, the surrounding airport area consisted of pasture fields with small tree lines.

Weather, about the time of the accident, included wind from 230 degrees at five knots, and a visibility of ten statute miles.

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