December 12, 2008, New Bern, N.C., Piper PA-28-235


The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1615 Eastern time during a forced landing after takeoff from a private airstrip. The commercial pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Near the conclusion of the pre-flight inspection, a friend of the pilot stopped by, and they talked for about 20 minutes. During the conversation, fuel began running out of the right-wing fuel vent. After concluding the conversation, the pilot taxied the airplane to the end of the runway, performed a run-up and placed the fuel selector on the right main tank, in response to the venting fuel. The pilot did not note any abnormalities during the run-up.

The pilot then began the takeoff roll. The airplane lifted off after a ground roll of about 800 feet. Upon reaching about 100 feet of altitude, the engine suddenly and completely lost power. The pilot turned the airplane to the right to attempt a landing in a field, but did not have enough altitude to clear a ditch. The airplane struck the ditch, which sheared off the landing gear and substantially damaged the airplane.


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