The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1005 Mountain time during a forced landing after a partial loss of engine power. The solo airline transport pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
The pilot reported a satisfactory preflight inspection and run-up. After taking off from the 6764-foot-elevation airport and at about 500 feet agl, he detected a vibration in the engine and observed the manifold pressure drop from 25 inches to 20 inches and the rpm drop from 2500 to 2300. The pilot turned on the fuel boost pump, but no change in engine performance was observed. The pilot attempted to return to the departure airport; however, he could not maintain altitude and elected to land in the desert. The left main landing gear and propeller sustained impact damage, and both wings had sustained substantial damage as a result of impact with terrain. When the pilot was asked if he had leaned the fuel mixture prior to takeoff, he replied he had not.