WPR11LA289
WPR11LA289

On June 26, 2011, about 1003 mountain daylight time, an amateur built experimental Lemond Fly Fisher, N397JL, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing after takeoff from the Ryan Field Airport (2MT1), West Glacier, Montana. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot and his one passenger sustained serious 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 Omak, Washington.

The pilot reported to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector that during his pre-flight inspection of the airplane, all three fuel drains were drained, and approximately one-quarter cup of fuel was obtained from each drain port, with no evidence of water noted. The pilot told the FAA inspector that during the pre-flight, the airplane was parked in an unusual attitude and that water could have possibly been trapped in a different area of the fuel tank. The pilot further reported that after conducting a 10 to 12 minute engine warm-up, he conducted a magneto check, noting all operations were normal and initiated takeoff. As the airplane passed approximately midpoint along the runway, he heard a small pop and looked at the engine RPM gauge, and saw no indication of a loss of power.

The pilot stated that as the airplane ascended through about 200 feet above ground level (agl) over the departure end of the runway, the engine quit running "like it [the engine] had a slug of water." The pilot initiated a forced landing to an adjacent field. Subsequently, the airplane struck trees and came to rest on its right side.

Examination of the airplane by the FAA inspector revealed that it came to rest near the departure end of the runway. The right wing was bent upwards about 90 degrees, and the left wing was bent and buckled throughout. The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

On August 17, 2011, the engine was examined by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) and representatives from the FAA at the facilities of Arlin's Aviation, Belgrade, Montana. Examination of the recovered Lycoming O-320-E2D engine, serial number L-36982-27A, revealed it had been separated from the airframe by the wreckage recovery company to facilitate wreckage transportation. All engine accessories remained attached to the engine. The exhaust exhibited impact damage. The top spark plugs and rocker arm covers were removed, and the engine crankshaft was rotated by hand using the propeller. Rotational continuity was established throughout the engine and valve train. Thumb compression was noted on all cylinders. The carburetor remained attached to its mount; however, it exhibited impact related damage. The float bowl, floats, needle valve, and finger screen were separated and not located. The mixture and throttle control arms moved freely by hand from stop to stop. Examination of the engine revealed no mechanical anomalies that would have prevented normal operation.

Examination of the airframe fuel filter revealed that a small amount of clear liquid was within the filter bowl. The liquid was tested using water finding paste with positive results of water.

The electronic ignition system was removed from the airframe and engine for further testing. On November 17, 2011, the ignition system was examined at the facilities of Light Speed Engineering, Santa Paula, California, under the supervision of the IIC. The electronic ignition system and harness was functionally tested on a test bench with no anomalies noted.

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