On July 5, 2009, about 0905 mountain daylight time, a T. Piper Murphy Rebel, N5PQ, experimental airplane, experienced a sudden and total loss of engine power during initial climb from runway 35 at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport, Idaho Falls, Idaho. The home-built airplane touched down hard during the ensuing forced landing on the airport, and it was substantially damaged. The private pilot received a minor injury. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the personal flight, and no flight plan had been filed. The flight was performed under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and it was originating at the time of the accident. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot reported to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator that he built and maintained the airplane. All systems operated normally during his pretakeoff checkout of the airplane. The fuel tanks contained about 31 gallons of fuel. During the initial climb, the engine performed normally.
According to the pilot, upon climbing about 400 feet over the runway, the engine "abruptly quit." The pilot stated that he made a forced landing on runway 20. However, while turning toward that runway airspeed was lost, and the airplane touched down very hard. It slid off the runway and came to rest on the adjacent grass, about 100 feet off the runway. During the impact sequence, the fuselage and wings broke.
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector subsequently examined the airplane. According to the FAA inspector, all controls had retained their continuity, the fuel was clean with no contamination, oil was in the sump, and the engine's crankshaft rotated. There was very little fuel in the engine's flow divider, and no fuel in the injector lines. The FAA inspector noted that the airplane was equipped with an electric fuel valve control switch that turned the fuel on and off. The switch's position could be easily moved.
Following the FAA's examination, the pilot had the engine examined. During that examination the engine was operated, and it appeared to function normally. The pilot reported that he believes the engine had lost power due to an interruption of fuel flow. It appears to have been "cut off."