October 07, Somerset, Pa. / Taylorcraft 15A


At 1440 eastern time, a Taylorcraft 15A struck power lines shortly after taking off from Somerset County Airport. The flight instructor and airplane owner were not injured. The flight instructor said he and the pilot had traveled to Maryland to inspect and pick up the newly purchased airplane and fly it back to Michigan. The buyer was a commercial pilot but was not current in the airplane and had asked the flight instructor to accompany him and provide flight instruction while en route to Michigan. The day before the accident, the flight instructor flew the airplane alone for about 30 minutes and talked to the seller about the airplanes slow climb rate, which was about 300-400 feet per minute. The seller told the flight instructor that the airplane was not a great performer and said a normal climb airspeed was between 60-70 mph. The seller reported a cruise speed of 95-100 mph. The airplane had not gotten an annual inspection since 1999, and a fresh annual was a condition of the sale. The seller hired a mechanic to inspect the airplane and the mechanic endorsed the airplane for day VFR flight only. The FAA issued a ferry permit. En route to the first fuel stop, the instructor noted a lower-than-expected cruise speed. A pre-takeoff runup after the fuel stop showed the engine would develop only 2,200 rpm static thrust. The two pilots took off anyway. The airplane got to about 200 feet then started to descend. Post-accident investigation showed low compression on the #3 cylinder, and no compression on the #5 cylinder. The air filter was found clogged with debris, and when the throttle was placed in the full forward position, the butterfly valve in the carburetor only opened about 1/3 of the way.


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