While Cruising At 4,500 Ft Mean Sea Level (Msl), The Engine Started To Sputter, Then Stopped

Location: Edisto Island, SC Accident Number: ERA22LA104
Date & Time: January 11, 2022, 12:47 Local Registration: N475RT
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-300 Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On January 11, 2022, about 1247 eastern standard time (EST), a Piper, PA-32-300, N475RT, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Edisto Island, South Carolina. The private pilot was not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight.

According to the pilot, who was also the owner of the airplane, the first leg of the flight was uneventful. After landing at Columbus County Municipal Airport (CPC), Whiteville, North Carolina to get fuel, he resumed the flight to Florida. After departure, about 15 minutes into the flight, while cruising at 4,500 ft mean sea level (msl), the engine started to sputter, then stopped, followed immediately by oil blowing out from the engine cowling onto the windshield, partially limiting his field of view. Seeing no immediate landing location ahead of him, “there was nothing but marsh and river,” he pitched up for 100 mph and turned 180° and declared an emergency.

He observed a straight road between two fields out of his side window and headed towards the area. After setting up for a short final to the road, he observed an electrified livestock fence on both sides of the road, but he was already committed for landing and there was nothing he could do to avoid the fence. After touching down, both wings struck the fence, causing the airplane to veer to the right, through the fence and into a field for about 300 ft before coming to rest.

Examination of photographs of the accident site taken by first responders and a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed substantial damage; the airplane’s right wing contained a large tear in the leading edge and the right landing gear had collapsed, causing additional wing damage. There was oil on the top of the engine cowl and oil spray on the windshield and fuselage. Upon further examination of the engine, a hole was discovered on the top of the engine near the No. 6 cylinder.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov