On December 8, 2009, about 1248 Pacific standard time, a Piper PA-38-112 airplane, N2539D, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power during takeoff initial climb at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT), Fresno, California. The airplane was registered to Golden Eagle Enterprises Inc., Fresno, and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The commercial pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal cross-country flight. The flight was originating at the time of the accident with an intended destination of Monterey, California.

In a written statement, the pilot reported that following a preflight inspection of the airplane, he taxied to Runway 29L and completed “a normal run up” with no anomalies noted. The pilot requested clearance for takeoff and was held for about 6 to 8 minutes due to landing traffic prior to receiving clearance. The pilot stated that he taxied onto the runway, advanced the throttle, and noted an engine rpm of 2200. During takeoff initial climb, the pilot realized “the airplane wasn’t climbing normally” and that “the engine wasn’t running rough.” As the airplane crossed over the airport perimeter road northwest of the departure runway, the engine started to run rough and the engine rpm fluctuated to 1800. The pilot initiated a left turn towards the departure runway. He stated that as the airplane was about 20 to 30 feet above ground level, “…the aircraft stalled and impacted the ground.”

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the airplane came to rest upright about 1,500 feet northwest of the departure end of runway 29L. The right wing was partially separated. The tail of the airplane was separated just aft of the cabin area. The fuel selector valve handle was positioned to the “right” fuel tank. Fuel was in both the left and right fuel tanks. The right fuel tank was partially ruptured. Fuel samples obtained from the airframe fuel sump were free of debris and blue in color.

Examination of the engine revealed that the propeller was separated from the crankshaft propeller flange. All engine accessories remained attached to their respective mounts. Rotational continuity was established throughout the engine and valve train. Thumb compression was obtained on all four cylinders. The magnetos produced spark on all ignition leads when the crankshaft was rotated. The top and bottom spark plugs exhibited normal wear signatures. The carburetor was intact and undamaged. The carburetor finger screen was free of debris. The carburetor float bowl contained about two ounces of fuel and was free of debris.

No mechanical anomalies were observed with the engine or airframe that would have precluded normal operation.

At 1252, the reported weather at FAT was: wind variable at 3 knots; visibility 10 miles; scattered cloud layer at 1,500 feet above ground level; temperature 43 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 30 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter 30.11 inches of mercury.

Review of an FAA Carburetor Icing Chart revealed "Serious icing - glide power" for a temperature of 43 degrees Fahrenheit and a dew point of 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

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