Pilot Felt A “Jolt” And The Engine “Seemed To Power Down, Like The Engine Went To Idle”

Location: Athens, GA Accident Number: ERA23LA097
Date & Time: December 29, 2022, 13:27 Local Registration: N9026P
Aircraft: Piper PA24 Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On December 29, 2022, about 1327 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-24-260, N9026P, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Athens, Georgia. The pilot sustained minor injuries and the passenger was not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot and passenger departed Athens/Ben Epps Airport (AHN), Athens, Georgia, with 36 gallons of fuel around 1322 on an instrument flight plan. Shortly after leveling off at 6,000 ft mean sea level, the pilot felt a “jolt” and the engine “seemed to power down, like the engine went to idle.” The pilot established best glide speed, turned on the fuel pump, changed fuel tanks and performed a check of the mixture, ignition and master switch but was unable to restore engine power. He declared an emergency and turned back toward AHN. Less than a mile from the runway, the pilot realized that the airplane was not going to reach the airport and prepared to land in a field just past some trees; however, the airplane pitched up and stalled over the trees, then descended through the trees to the ground.

Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the main wreckage came to rest inverted in the trees. The wings, fuselage and empennage were substantially damaged.

The airplane was recovered and will be examined.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov