WPR09LA431
WPR09LA431

On September 4, 2009, about 1045 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-28-180 airplane, N2482R, was destroyed during a forced landing following a loss of engine power during takeoff initial climb from the Oroville Municipal Airport (OVE), Oroville, California. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot and his passenger sustained minor injuries. Two first responders who responded to the accident sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The cross-country flight was originating at the time of the accident with an intended destination of Chester, California.

The pilot reported that as the airplane ascended to 200 feet above ground level (agl), he felt a "slight bump" in the airframe, followed by two more bumps. The pilot initiated a 180-degree turn towards the departure runway due to "irregular terrain and trees below." The pilot stated that the engine was running at the time, but not producing any power. As the descent continued, the engine began "sputtering very badly" and "losing power very quickly." Subsequently, the airplane struck two fences and landed hard on the ground. During the landing roll, the airplane impacted a large ditch and came to rest upright. The pilot and passenger exited the airplane and observed a post-accident fire originating from the front part of the airplane.

Examination of the recovered airframe revealed that the fuselage and right wing were consumed by fire. The left wing was mostly intact. The fuel selector valve was observed in the "LEFT" position. The throttle and mixture control levers were observed in the "FULL FORWARD" position. The carburetor heat control lever was in the "COLD" position. Both the left and right fuel tanks were breeched. The airframe fuel gascolator was consumed by fire. The screen was present with molten material surrounding it. The bowl was full of debris.

Examination of the recovered engine revealed that all of the engine mounts were intact. The left and right magnetos remained attached to the engine accessory mounting pads and exhibited severe thermal damage. The fuel pump remained secure at the mounting pad and exhibited thermal damage. The fuel system was intact from the firewall forward and all fittings to the fuel pump and carburetor were secure at their respective attach points. The carburetor remained secure at the mounting pad. The float bowl was separated from the carburetor and was not located. The throttle and mixture controls remained secure to their respective levers.

The top spark plugs, magnetos, rocker arm covers, and vacuum pump were removed. The engine crankshaft was manually rotated by hand using the propeller. Mechanical continuity was established throughout the engine and valve train. Thumb compression and suction was obtained on all four cylinders.

No anomalies were noted with the recovered airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

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