MIA02LA149
MIA02LA149

On August 13, 2002, about 1010 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 150M, N704TJ, registered to I & E Aircraft Rentals Inc., and operated as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 instructional flight, experienced a loss of engine power while in cruise flight, and the pilot made a forced landing to a road. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The student-rated pilot received no injuries, and the airplane incurred substantial damage. The flight originated from Fort Myers, Florida, the same day, about 1000.

The student pilot stated that he was conducting a long solo cross-country flight, proceeding east to La Belle, Florida, and while en route, the airplane's engine started to sound as if it was "back-firing, missing, or a combination of the two." He stated that engine power decreased, but all gages exhibited normal indications. As he tried advancing the throttle to increase engine power in an attempt to maintain altitude, he said the engine performed worse. He said he was afraid he would blow the engine over an unsuitable landing area, so he looked at his Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, noted highway 80, and veered north in an attempt to get to it in case the engine ceased operating. He said he followed the highway trying to "milk" the engine to retain altitude and passed over La Belle, Florida, at 350 feet, when he noticed a straight portion of highway about 2 miles to the east. Looking at the highway he said he noticed that it turned sharply, and he could not see beyond the turn, so he opted to land on that part of Highway 80 that he could see. He said he chose to land on the north berm of the highway, so he would not land on any cars that were under him, and during touchdown the airplane initially skipped, then started skidding. The right wing impacted a palm tree and spun the airplane around, causing substantial damage. The student stated that he never applied carburetor heat, or even considered applying it because the loss of power he was experiencing was not what he had associated with carburetor ice. He stated that he had come to expect a steady loss of engine power, rather than the engine back firing and missing as had happened.

After recovery, the engine was examined by an FAA licensed airframe and powerplant mechanic, with an inspection authorization rating, and no anomalies were noted. The mechanic stated that during the examination there was good compression on all cylinders, and during test runs, the engine developed power normally.

According to the carburetor icing chart, conditions were conductive to the formation of visible icing while the airplane was being operated at glide and cruise power settings.

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