The Engine Was Recently Field Overhauled And Was Installed On The Airframe About 5 Hours Prior To The Accident

Location: Slocomb, AL Accident Number: ERA22LA389
Date & Time: August 27, 2022, 12:37 Local Registration: N76527
Aircraft: Cessna 140 Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On August 27, 2022, about 1315 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 140, N76527 , was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Slocomb, Alabama. The commercial pilot sustained serious injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to a witness, who was the son of the pilot, he observed the takeoff roll and stated that the airplane seemed “sluggish,” and the engine sounded “weak.” Immediately after rotation during the initial climb, the airplane seemed to be climbing slower than normal as it proceeded west towards the tree line that was about 70 ft tall. Shortly after the airplane reached the top of the tree the right wing dropped, and the airplane descended into the trees and disappeared before coming to rest in the tree canopy where the pilot egressed the airplane by jumping out.

According to the property owner, who was also a mechanic, the engine was recently field overhauled and was installed on the airframe about 5 hours prior to the accident. After the installation of the engine, the mechanic test ran the engine with no anomalous behavior noted and the pilot conducted “4 or 5” flights around the airport with no discrepancies. In addition, aviation fuel was purchased from another airport and transported to the airplane in fuel containers that were subsequently used to fuel it.

A Federal Aviation Administration inspector examined the wreckage and reported that the airplane impacted trees and became suspended about 30 ft off the ground on a heading of about 270° magnetic and 600 ft from the end of the turf runway at an elevation of 291 ft. The fuel tanks were breached during impact and a post-crash fire ensued and consumed the cockpit and fuselage while the empennage remained up in the trees. The engine, though slightly damaged by heat, appeared relatively intact. 

The engine was retained for further examination.