On August 17, 2004, about 1200 eastern daylight time, an Ercoupe 415-C, N3771H, was substantially damaged during a forced landing after takeoff from Pemberton Airport (3N7), Pemberton, New Jersey. The certificated commercial pilot and the passenger received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and the airplane was not operating on a flight plan. The local personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to a written statement submitted by the pilot, he conducted a preflight inspection, then taxied the airplane to the fueling area where his passenger fueled the right fuel tank to "one inch from the top." The pilot subsequently performed a run-up check of the engine, then taxied the airplane into position for takeoff. The takeoff was normal until about 200 feet above the ground. As the airplane began to pass above trees beyond the departure end of the runway, the pilot felt a "very slight roll," and the airplane "seemed to want to turn slightly to the right." The pilot initially thought he had encountered a downdraft, but later determined that the engine had lost all power.

The airplane then ceased climbing and began to settle. In an effort to keep the nose from settling any lower, the pilot applied additional backpressure on the elevator control. He continued to apply backpressure until the elevator control reached its aft limit; however, the airplane continued to settle. The pilot attempted to slow the airplane and land on top of the trees below, but the airplane contacted a tree, spun around 180-degrees, and fell to the ground in a nose-down attitude. The airplane came to rest upside down. While the pilot and the passenger were exiting the airplane, they observed fuel running out of the header tank.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, an examination of the airplane's engine and fuel system revealed no mechanical anomalies.

The pilot did not return the NTSB Form 6120.1/2, Pilot/Operator Report, which would have included pilot flight times and airplane information, including inspections. The FAA inspector subsequently discovered that the pilot had died about 1 month after the accident from causes unrelated to it.

The weather reported at McGuire Air Force Base (WRI), Wrightstown, New Jersey, about 5 nautical miles east, at 1155, included winds from 040 degrees at 3 knots, 7 statute miles visibility, few clouds at 3,000 feet, broken clouds at 12,000 feet, temperature 75 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure of 30.13 inches of mercury. A carburetor probability diagram indicated no probability of carburetor icing.

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