During the pre-flight inspection, the pilot checked that the engine’s oil and coolant levels were normal and sampled the aircraft’s fuel for any obvious contamination. After a normal engine start, he then conducted engine run-up checks prior to takeoff, during which the engine performed normally.
However, on initial climb out from Popham, passing 350 ft and clear of the airfield’s boundary, the pilot felt a loss in engine power accompanied by the sudden onset of engine vibrations. Unable to maintain altitude, he lowered the nose of the aircraft to maintain flying speed and adjusted the throttle, but still the engine continued to run roughly. He made a radio call to Popham, informing them that due to engine failure he was going to make a forced landing in a field west of the airfield. During the landing, the aircraft decelerated rapidly upon encountering a crop of wheat in the field, during which the left wing and left undercarriage suffered damage. The pilot and passenger, who were wearing lap and diagonal harnesses, were able to vacate the aircraft without injury or assistance. The cause for the engine’s power loss has not been established.
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Published 10 November 2016