Paulding, OH, USA
The pilot reported that after takeoff, about 250 ft above ground level, the engine backfired three times and lost power. He attempted to return to the airport and completed a 180° turn toward the runway. He did not recall any events following that turn. A witness heard the engine pop and sputter and then saw the airplane fall to the ground. The airplane was fragmented into many pieces when it hit the ground. A postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies with the engine that would have precluded normal operations. Examination of the fuel tank screen contained debris consistent with fiberglass from the fuel tank. It is likely that the fuel tank was degrading and this debris from the fuel tank clogged the fuel tank screen and resulted in a loss of engine power due to fuel starvation. The damage to the airplane and the witness statement is consistent with a stall. It is likely that during the turn back toward the runway the pilot did not maintain the proper airspeed and he exceeded the airplane’s critical angle of attack which resulted in an aerodynamic stall.
On January 17, 2020, about 1533 eastern standard time, a Piel Emeraude CP-301, N4120, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Paulding, Ohio. The pilot was seriously injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The pilot reported that after takeoff he climbed to about 250 ft above ground level and then the engine backfired three times and lost power. He entered a turn to attempt to return to the airport and after completing a 180° turn, he thought that he would be able to make it to the runway. He did not recall any events following that turn. A witness reported that after takeoff, he heard a “pop” or “sputter”, and the airplane immediately entered a left turn. He heard two more “pops” before the airplane “fell right to the ground.” He subsequently responded to the accident site to assist the pilot. Postaccident examination of the airplane did not reveal any anomalies with the engine that would have precluded normal operations. The airplane appeared to have sufficient fuel and engine oil at the time of the accident. The pilot reported that 20 gallons of fuel were onboard at the time. During a post-recovery examination debris was observed in the fuel tank screen. The debris appeared to be fiberglass from the fuel tank which may have started to degrade.
The pilot’s failure to maintain control of the airplane following the loss of engine power. The loss of engine power was the result of fuel starvation due to the degraded fuel tank and fuel contamination.
Source: NTSB Aviation Accident Database
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