On July 27, 2006, at 1604 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32R-300, N43945, was substantially damaged during a forced landing and impact with trees, after experiencing a loss of engine power during takeoff from Virginia Tech/Montgomery Executive Airport (BCB), Blacksburg, Virginia. The certificated commercial pilot was seriously injured, and the passenger sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight destined to Tappahannock Municipal Airport (W79), Tappahannock, Virginia. An instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the pilot's written statement, earlier that day, the airplane was completely fueled. The pilot and two passengers flew uneventfully from W79 to BCB, and dropped off one passenger.
After approximately 10 minutes on the ground, the pilot and remaining passenger departed on runway 30 for a return flight to W79. About 200 feet agl, the engine began to run rough and lost partial power. The electric fuel pump was already on, and the pilot switched fuel tanks, but the engine continued to run rough.
The pilot initially flew a left hand traffic pattern for runway 30; however, he subsequently did not think the airplane would reach that runway. The pilot then performed a forced landing to a closed runway oriented about 070 degrees. The airplane touched down near the end of the runway, traveled over a grassy area, and struck trees. The pilot further stated that he had to fly over parked airplanes on the closed runway, before he could touch down at the end of the runway.
On site examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the flaps were in the retracted position. The inspector further stated that the runway and grassy area was approximately 5,000 feet long, with trees at the end. He observed that the left wing fuel tank was compromised during the impact. The right wing fuel tank remained intact, and was approximately 1/4-full. The FAA inspector also noted that the fuel selector was found positioned toward the left tank position, but not all the way in the left detent. The FAA inspector did observe fuel in the fuel manifold.
After the airplane was recovered, the FAA inspector was able to rotate the propeller by hand, and obtained camshaft, crankshaft, and valve train continuity. He also attained thumb compression on all cylinders, and noted rotation through the accessory section to both magnetos.
The FAA inspector observed that the number six exhaust valve pushrod was bent; however, it was possible the pushrod bent during the airplane's recovery. He then removed the number six cylinder and exhaust valve (spring, lifter, keeper, etc.), and did not observe any discrepancies with the valve.
The airplane's most recent annual inspection was performed on July 7, 2006. At that time, the airplane had accumulated 4,460.8 hours of operation. The airplane had accumulated approximately 3 hours of operation since the annual inspection.
The reported weather at BCB, at 1600, was: wind from 260 degrees at 5 knots; visibility 10 miles; sky clear; temperature 82 degrees F; dew point 66 degrees F; altimeter 30.15 inches Hg.