On November 21, 2006, at 1213 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-32RT-300, N3887M, was substantially damaged during a forced landing in Bardstown, Kentucky. The certificated private pilot and passenger received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the flight which originated at Mayfield Graves County Airport (M25), Mayfield, Kentucky and was en route to Capital City Airport (FFT), Frankfort, Kentucky. The personal flight was conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to air traffic control (ATC) information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), while the pilot was at an altitude of 5,000 feet, en route to his destination, he reported "engine fire...going in." The pilot was given vectors to Samuels Field Airport (BRY), Bardstown, Kentucky, which was the closest airport.

The pilot was unable to make it to the airport, and performed a forced landing to a field about 1 mile from the airport, during which the airplane impacted trees.

The pilot reported to an FAA inspector that he observed smoke coming from the front of the airplane when the engine lost power. He could not recall if the engine lost total power or continued to run at partial power. The pilot did recall that the propeller continued to turn, and he attempted to turn on the boost pump and switch tanks; but was unsuccessful in regaining engine power.

Preliminary examination of the engine by the FAA inspector revealed that the right forward cowling displayed fire damage near the number 1 cylinder exhaust, and soot damage under the number 1 cylinder. The exhaust stacks were impact damaged, and the vacuum pump and magneto had separated from the rear of the engine. The engine crankshaft was rotated by hand and thumb compression and valve train continuity was confirmed to all cylinders. Fuel was observed in the fuel lines and in the fuel tanks. The magneto switch, master switch and fuel boost pump switch were all observed in the "off" position.

The engine was removed from the accident site for further examination. The cowling was removed and burn damage was noted on the inside of the lower, right cowling. This damage was in the vicinity of the number 1 cylinder exhaust stack. The number 1 exhaust gasket was intact with no evidence of exhaust gas leakage observed. The number 1 cylinder lower spark plug wire also had evidence of black soot around it. Additionally, the number 1 exhaust gauge temperature (EGT) probe was backed out of the exhaust stack about 1/8 inch. Evidence of exhaust gas leakage was noted on the EGT probe. No indication of fuel leakage was observed on the engine cylinder inlet pipes, fuel injector nozzles, or the fuel distributor valves. Additionally, all of the fuel nozzle connections were secure.

The engine was equipped with an engine analyzer, which recorded engine data. The unit was sent to its manufacturer for download. According to the report prepared by the manufacturer, no anomalies were noted in the accident flight data. There was no indication of a fuel leak, or increase in engine temperature. At 1210, the last recorded data point indicated the fuel was cut off suddenly, to the engine.

The fuel servo was also sent to its manufacturer for examination, under the supervision of a National Transportation Safety Board investigator. The fuel servo was flow tested, and the testing revealed the fuel flow was within service limits. No mechanical anomalies were noted with the fuel servo.

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