Pilot… Knew That It Was Going To Be A Risky Flight Home But Decided To Proceed With It Anyway

Location: Melbourne, FL Accident Number: ERA22LA172
Date & Time: March 29, 2022, 15:00 Local Registration: N5067W
Aircraft: Piper PA-28 Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Positioning

On March 29, 2022, at 1500 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28, N5067W, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Melbourne, Florida. The pilot sustained minor injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 positioning flight.

According to the pilot, he was hired to perform a prebuy inspection of the airplane, then fly it to New Jersey to the new owner. He and his girlfriend flew down in his airplane a few days before the accident flight and he performed a prebuy inspection. He noted that the cylinders were previously changed and was told by the seller that the break-in run was not completed. The pilot further stated he knew that it was going to be a risky flight home but decided to proceed with it anyway. On the day of the accident, he took off and circled the airport several times and climbed to 7,000 ft mean sea level. He stated everything looked and ran well so he decided to proceed to New Jersey. About 20 miles northwest of Melbourne Orlando International Airport (MLB), Melbourne, Florida, he noticed the engine was running rough and the oil pressure was low. He notified air traffic control and turned back to MLB to land. The roughness increased and the engine started vibrating, so he reduced the power to 1,500 rpm.

The engine continued to run rough so he shut the engine down and thought he could glide to the runway at MLB. Once he realized he would not make the runway, he set up to land in a parking lot. He does not remember much after; however, he thought he may have hit a telephone pole.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the airplane struck telephone wires and came to rest inverted in a parking lot. Both wings sustained substantial damage.

The wreckage has been retained for further examination.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov