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On December 4, 2006, at 1635 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-15, N4540H, registered to a private owner, operating as a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, had a total loss of engine power in cruise flight. The pilot made a forced landing in the vicinity of Conyers, Georgia. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The airplane received substantial damage. The private pilot reported minor injuries. The flight originated from Griffin Spalding County Airport, Griffin, Georgia, on December 4, 2006, at 1615.
The pilot stated the airplane had been at Griffin, Georgia, for an oil and filter change and replacement of the oil temperature and oil pressure gauge. Five quarts of oil were added to the engine. An engine run was conducted and the oil was checked and the dipstick indicated 4 and one half quarts of oil. After the mechanic completed the required maintenance the pilot had the airplane topped off with fuel and conducted a preflight inspection. No anomalies were noted during the preflight inspection. The pilot started the airplane, taxied out for takeoff after completing all required checklist items, and departed. While in cruise flight at 2,500 feet and 95 mph the pilot observed a change in oil pressure and oil temperature. The oil pressure increased above 50 psi, dropped below 40 psi, and subsequently dropped below zero. The pilot immediately entered the nearest airport into his global positioning system (GPS). The GPS indicated an airport was located 9.2 statute miles from his present position. He turned the airplane towards the airport and the engine started loosing power. The pilot started looking for a forced landing area as the airplane descended to 2,000 feet. The pilot observed an open area and turned towards it and the engine quit and seized. The pilot maneuvered the airplane below some wires on final approach and made a landing on a road rolling into a grassy area. The airplane collided with a bump, bounced, and touched back down again. The pilot observed a tree to his right and applied left rudder to avoid the tree. The right wing of the airplane collided with the tree and separated. The airplane turned to the right, and the left wing of the airplane collided with a tree. The airplane turned to the left and the airplane collided with another tree head on and came to a complete stop.
Review of information on file with the FAA Airman's Certification Division, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane issued on November 20, 2004. The pilots stated he has 2,264 total flight hours of which 120 hours are in the PA-15. In addition he has 624 hours in multiengine airplanes. The pilot stated he has flown 25 hours in the last 90 days of which 15 were in the PA-15, and 10 hours in the last 30 days of which 8 hours were in the PA-15. The pilot's last flight review was conducted on February 11, 2006. The pilot holds a second-class medical certificate issued on April 4, 2005, with the restriction, "must wear corrective lenses for near and distant vision."
Review of the aircraft logbooks revealed the last annual inspection and engine overhaul was conducted on April 18, 2006, and the engine had accumulated 26 hours. The airframe has accumulated 1,567 hours. The oil temperature and pressure gauge was replaced on December 4, 2006. The airplane was topped off with 100 low lead fuel before departing.
The nearest weather reporting facility at the time of the accident was the William B. Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia, located 24 miles northwest of the accident site. The 1622 surface weather observation was: clear, visibility 10 miles, temperature 41 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point temperature 46 degrees Fahrenheit, winds 240 degrees at 8 knots, and altimeter 30.35.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The accident site was located adjacent to 4500 Bowen Road, Conyers, Georgia. The airplane came to rest on a heading of 100 degrees magnetic in an upright position. The upper and lower engine cowling were attached. The wooden propeller remained attached to the propeller flange, with one propeller blade damaged. The propeller spinner was not damaged. The engine assembly remained attached to all engine mounts. Oil was present on the right side of the firewall, underneath the fuselage behind the engine cowling, and extended rearward to the tail section. There was no evidence of damage to either engine case half. All oil and fuel lines appeared to be attached. The engine oil was checked at the scene and indicated approx one half quart. While checking the oil at the scene the cap separated from the dip stick and later at Atlanta Air Salvage a spring was found in the bottom of the cowling which secures the cap to the dip stick.
The cabin area received minor damage. The throttle was at idle power. The carburetor heat was in. The fuel selector valve was in the on position. The header fuel tank was not ruptured and contained fuel. The airplane was equipped with lap seatbelts and the left seatbelt was in use at the time of the accident. The aircraft registration and airworthiness certificate was located in the airplane and was recovered by the FAA. The left main landing gear remained attached to the airframe and the right main landing gear separated from the airframe. Continuity of the flight controls was confirmed from both control sticks to all flight control surfaces with the exception of the right wing which had separated from contact with a tree.
The right wing separated at the wing root attachment point after collision with a tree and rotated 180 degrees. The right wing leading edge was damaged. The right wing struts separated from the fuselage attach points. The right aileron remained attached at all hinge points and was damaged.
The empennage was not damaged. The vertical fin was not damaged and the rudder remained attached. The right horizontal stabilizer received minor damage and the elevator was intact. The left horizontal stabilizer and elevator were not damaged. The tail wheel was intact and not damaged. The ELT was intact and had been turned off by law enforcement on scene.
The left wing remained attached to the airframe. The left wing leading edge was not damage; however the left wing tip was damaged. The left aileron remained attached at all hinge points and was not damaged. The left wing struts remained attached at the fuselage and the wing.
The airplane was released to Atlanta Air Recovery on December 5, 2006, for recovery. Teledyne Continental Engine Manufacture and the FAA examined the engine on December 7, 2006. The engine was intact and had received damage to the front of the No. 6 cylinder. The No. 6 exhaust push rod tube housing was cracked at the left crankcase half. The carburetor was separated near the throttle valve. The throttle valve was free to move. The fuel screen was clear and unobstructed.. The carburetor was disassembled and the float and needle valve were attached and free to move. The needle valve seat was clean. Fuel was observed in the carburetor bowl. The throttle control was connected to the carburetor and was in the aft position. The mixture control on the carburetor was safety wired in the full rich position. The carburetor heat control was connected to the air box and was in the full cold position.
The oil temperature and oil pressure lines were attached and not damaged. The oil dip stick cap was separated from the oil dip stick and the spring from the cap was found in the bottom of the right side of the firewall lodged in an engine mount. The oil sump was dented on the front. The oil drain plug was installed and safety wired. Fifteen ounces of black oil was drained from the oil sump. The sump was removed and pieces of the number one connecting rod cap and rod cap bearing were found in the oil sump. The oil pick up tube and screen were not damaged. The oil filter was removed, opened, and was free of contaminants.
The exhaust system was intact and received damage. The induction system was intact and not damaged. The ignition harness was intact and not damaged. The sparkplugs were removed and light gray deposits were present. The left and right magnetos were intact and not damaged. The magnetos sparked at all terminals when rotated by hand.
The engine crankshaft could not be rotated and the engine was disassembled. The No. 1 cylinder was intact and no external damaged was noted The cylinder skirt was damaged and the cylinder could not be removed from the crankcase half. Oil was observed on the rocker arm areas, and the valves were in place in the cylinder head. The No.2, and No.3 three cylinders were intact and not damaged. Normal deposits were observed in the dome, and scoring was present in the barrel. The valves were in place, and oil was noted in the rocker arm area. The No. 4 cylinder received damage and wood particles were embedded in the cylinder cooling fins. The cylinder had normal deposits in the dome and scoring in the barrel. The valves were in place and the rocker arms were coated with oil.
The No. 1 one piston skirt was damaged and the piston could not be removed. The No. 2, 3, and 4 pistons were not damaged and removed. Normal deposits were present on the piston heads. All piston rings were in place , coated with oil, and free to move. The crankcase halves were intact and the interiors of the crankcase halves were dry. Damage was noted above the number one cylinder attachment point on the right crankcase half. The main bearings were dry and discolored with evidence of wear and scoring.
The crankshaft was intact. The main journals were dry with a thin coat of oil. The No. 1 rod journal exhibited heat discoloration and some melting of the metal, and the rod cap bearing was partially melted into the No. 1 rod journal. The No. 1 rod journal oil inlet was partially melted and blocked. The No. 2 and 3 rod journals were dry and discolored. The No. 4 rod journal exhibited scoring. All oil ports on the rod journals were blocked. The No.1 cylinder connecting rod had separated from the rod journal. The No. 2 connecting rod was intact and was hard to rotate on the rod journal. The rod cap bolts were separated during the removal of the rod cap. The rod was dry and heat discolored. The No. 2 rod cap bearing was dry and heat discolored. Scoring was observed on the interior of the bearing. The No. 3 connecting rod was intact and free to rotate. The No. 3 connecting rod bearing was dry and heat discolored with scoring on the interior surface. The No. 4 connecting rod was not damaged and was free to rotate on the rod journal. The No. 4 connecting rod cap bearing was intact and dry with scoring present on the interior surface of the bearing. No metal particles were found in the oil filter or oil screen. The camshaft was intact coated with oil and not damaged. The valve lifters were intact and coated with oil. The rear accessory gears and the crankcase halves were dry and not coated with oil. A small amount of clear oil was observed in the valve covers.
The airplane was released by the FAA to Atlanta Air recovery on December 7, 2006.