SEA02LA163
SEA02LA163

On August 23, 2002, approximately 2015 Pacific daylight time, a privately owned Piper PA-14 airplane, N5170H, was ditched offshore near Eastsound, Washington, following a reported loss of engine power. The private pilot, a resident of Orcas, Washington, who owned the aircraft and was its sole occupant, escaped the aircraft with minor injuries following the ditching and was rescued by a private individual in a boat. According to a witness, the airplane was substantially damaged in the ditching; it subsequently sank in about 60 feet of water. Visual meteorological conditions were reported at Friday Harbor, Washington, at 1953, and no flight plan had been filed for the 14 CFR 91 personal flight, which the pilot reported had been airborne for about 15 minutes at the time the loss of power occurred.

In a written statement, the pilot reported that the purpose of the flight was to warm the oil for an oil change. After about 15 minutes, the pilot was returning to the airport when the engine suddenly lost power. The pilot set-up for the best glide at 70 mph and checked the fuel valve, carburetor heat, magnetos, and pumped the primer and throttle. The engine would not start and the pilot set-up for a forced landing to the beach on the west side of Eastsound. As the aircraft continued to approach the beach, the pilot decided that he was too high and opted to ditch the aircraft instead. As the aircraft descended to about 100 feet above the water level, the engine started. The pilot immediately entered a climb and attained an altitude of about 200 feet when the engine quit again. The pilot then set-up again for a three point stall landing to the water. When the aircraft contacted the water, the left wing dug into the water and the aircraft immediately stopped. The pilot was able to evacuate the aircraft before it sank. The pilot stated that the aircraft was full of fuel and that during the preflight, there was no water noted in the gascolator. To this date, the aircraft has not been recovered.

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