On September 25, 2007, about 0925 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-24-250, N7961P, registered to and operated by a private individual, was landed hard during a precautionary landing at Wimauma Air Park (FD77), Wimauma, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 local, maintenance test flight from FD77. The airplane was substantially damaged and the private-rated pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. The flight originated about 0915, from FD77.

The pilot/mechanic stated that the purpose of the flight was to evaluate the airplane following installation of a new fiberglass engine cowling. He intended to fly the traffic pattern once then land. He checked the oil quantity during his preflight inspection and noted 11 quarts. He also performed an engine run-up before takeoff with no reported discrepancies; the engine run-up lasted 6 minutes which included checking the magnetos 2 times, and cycling the propeller control "numerous times." He began the takeoff roll from runway 09, and noted the rpm and oil pressure were good. The takeoff continued and after takeoff, he made a left climbing turn and climbed to 600 feet. The flight was past the departure end of the runway when he retracted the landing gear. At that time he scanned the engine instruments and noted the oil pressure was zero. He continued the left turn to enter a left downwind for runway 09, and reduced throttle while flying at 700 feet. He continued the left turn for a landing on runway 27, and while on a close-in left base leg for runway 27, while flying at 200 feet, he lowered the landing gear. The flight at that time was on a 45-degree angle to runway 27, and he added power but the engine did not respond. The airplane entered a "...down wind landing Stall with a right turn as it hit the ground...." The airplane slid on wet grass causing collapse of all landing gears, then came to rest on top of the airport fence. The airplane was later determined to have come to rest upright on a magnetic heading of 090 degrees. The airplane was recovered for further examination.

Postaccident examination of the airplane following recovery was performed by an FAA airworthiness inspector. No oil was noted on the exterior of the airplane or in the engine compartment area. The nose landing gear strut was fractured and exhibited a compression bend on the aft side. There was no evidence of water in the fuel. Using compressed air, the oil pressure gauge was checked and found to operate. Examination of the engine revealed the oil dipstick indicated 11 quarts. Continuity of the throttle and mixture controls was confirmed from the cockpit to the carburetor, and crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train continuity was also confirmed. The oil pump operated satisfactory, and provided oil pressure. Following removal of the propeller governor and No. 2 cylinder, oil was noted on the propeller governor pad, and also in the No. 2 cylinder and in the push rods. The magnetos produced spark when rotated, and the oil filters were clean and free of metal particles. All three propeller blades remained secured in the hub and were bent aft varying degrees, but 2 of the 3 were rotated beyond normal operating range. There was no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction of the engine.

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