Date & Time: Jul 17, 1998 at 1431 LT
Type of aircraft:
Piper PA-31-310 Navajo
Kendall - Kendall
United States of America
Crew on board:
Pax on board:
An aircraft mechanic working abeam of the point on the runway that the airplane lifted off was attracted by the sound of engine roughness, and observed black smoke trailing from the left engine. The airplane continued to climb to about 150 feet above ground level, entered a series of shallow left turns at about the airport's east boundary at a slow speed, and then entered a rapid left roll and pitched down. The pilot transmitted an unreadable call on FAA tower frequency, but the words, 'we got a..' and 'engine' were clearly discernable. The airplane crashed in dense brush about 1.25 miles northeast of the airport. Contamination was found in the left engine fuel system. Post crash testing of the left fuel servo revealed it would not sustain a steady state fuel flow above about one half throttle due to contamination.
The pilot's inadequate preflight inspection which led to fuel contamination and subsequent loss of engine power. Also causal was the pilot's failure to maintain single engine flying speed (VMC).