This February 2009 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.
Aircraft: Piper Cherokee. Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious. Location: Ridgeland, S.C. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: When the airplane was 500 feet in the air, the pilot felt the engine was not producing sufficient power, so he made a precautionary landing and performed a run-up check. There were no problems, so he took off again. While on the downwind leg the pilot again felt there was a problem with the engine, so he again elected to land. This time he maneuvered the airplane to return to the opposite end of the runway. The plane approached the runway at a near 45° angle and landed hard, collapsing the landing gear. A post-accident inspection of the wreckage revealed no evidence of any mechanical abnormalities.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain control of the airplane during a precautionary landing. Contributing to the accident was a partial loss of engine power for undetermined reasons.
For more information: NTSB.gov