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On August 31, 2010, at 1030 eastern daylight time, a Bird CK, N765N, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain following a loss of engine power after takeoff from Eagles Mere Field Airport (40PN), Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania. The certificated private pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
On the day of the accident, the pilot performed a pre-flight inspection, and checked the oil and fuel quantity, before starting the engine and letting it warm up for about 8-10 minutes.
The pilot departed from Merritt Field Airport (4PN7), and during the takeoff climb, the airplane’s engine "coughed," several times. The pilot reported this was not uncommon for older radial engines, but he remained in the traffic pattern as he checked the engine instruments and evaluated the engine condition. After noticing no anomalies with the engine instruments, the pilot decided to fly to 40PN, about 4 miles away. He landed uneventfully and taxied back for departure.
The pilot departed from 40PN, and as the airplane was about 3/4 down the runway, and at an altitude of about 150 feet, the engine lost power completely. The pilot decided he could not land straight ahead due to trees and terrain, and decided to make a left turn to return to the airport. He attempted to lower the nose of the airplane in an attempt to gain airspeed. As the airplane was about 15 feet above the ground, it “stalled,” and impacted the ground at an approximate 45-degree angle. The airplane then spun laterally and impacted a fence.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent second-class medical certificate was issued on April 7, 2010. At that time, he reported 1,600 hours of total flight experience.
According to the pilot, the airplane was manufactured in 1932 and had been recently restored. The restoration took about 5 years and the airplane had accumulated about 5 hours of flight time since the restoration was completed.
The antique biplane was powered by a Kinner B-54, 125-horsepower, radial engine.
Examination of the aircraft and engine logbooks revealed the airplane was purchased in November 2005, with a total time of 1,513 hours. The engine was completely overhauled and reinstalled in the airplane on September 1, 2009.
The most recent annual inspection was completed on October 1, 2009, at a total aircraft time of 1,516 hours.
The recorded weather at Williamsport Regional Airport (IPT), about 16 miles to the southwest of the accident site, at 1054, included wind from 220 degrees at 4 knots, 7 miles visibility, clear skies, temperature 24 degrees C, dew point 18 degrees C, and altimeter setting 30.23 inches of mercury.
The airplane was examined after the accident by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector. According to the inspector, the bi-plane sustained substantial damage to all four wings. Examination of the fuel tank revealed it was about 1/3 full of fuel. The inspector examined the fuel storage tank and truck used to fuel the airplane, and he noticed no contamination or water in the 100LL aviation fuel. He also noted the carburetor heat control was in the off position.
Further examination revealed that during the restoration of the airplane, the inside of the fuel tank was coated with an FAA approved product specifically designed for sealing older fuel tanks. This coating peeled off in large sheets and collected in the sump of the tank, blocking the fuel supply to the carburetor.