Airplane Collided With A Fence And A Ditch Before Coming To A Stop

Location: Grant-Valkaria, FL Accident Number: ERA21LA349
Date & Time: August 30, 2021, 08:19 Local Registration: N864LM
Aircraft: Piper Aircraft Inc PA-28-161 Injuries: 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On August 30, 2021, about 0819 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-161, N864ZLM, was substantially damaged during a forced landing at Grant-Valkaria, Florida. The private pilot and a pilot-rated passenger sustained minor injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot reported that the preflight, departure, and climb phases of flight were normal and uneventful. She leveled off at 7,500 feet and began to lean the mixture. While leaning, the engine rpm dropped below 1,000. She responded by increasing the mixture to full rich and applying full throttle; however, the engine did not respond. The airplane began to lose altitude rapidly and she tried to restart the engine to no avail. She declared an emergency and air  traffic control provided radar vectors to Valkaria Airport (X59), Valkaria, Florida. Unable to make the airport, she force-landed the airplane in a farm field. The airplane collided with a fence and a ditch before coming to a stop. The pilot and passenger exited the airplane and were met by first responders.

Inspectors with the Federal Aviation Administration responded to the accident site and examined the wreckage. Both wings and the fuselage received substantial damage. There was no fire. The right wing fuel tank contained about 17-18 gallons of fuel and the left tank was empty; however, the left tank was compromised by impact forces.

The wreckage was recovered to an aircraft salvage facility for further examination.