Narrative:A Grumman Albatross seaplane, registration N120FB, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing while performing an air return to Fort Pierce-Saint Lucie County Airport, FL (FPR).
The captain reported that while on the runway preparing for takeoff they advanced the power levers to achieve 30 inches of manifold pressure, checked all the engine gauges, then advanced the power levers to 40 inches of manifold pressure, released the brakes, and preformed a normal takeoff. During the initial climb the captain commanded the gear to be retracted, shortly after the gear handle was placed in the "UP" position, he heard a loud "bang followed by three to four smaller bangs." The captain commanded the checklist to be run for an engine failure in flight. The first officer confirmed that the left engine was the affected engine and immediately began feathering the propeller. Once the propeller had been feathered the captain confirmed that by looking outside and noticing the propeller in the feather position. The captain further reported that the right engine was producing the maximum power available and was indicating 55 inches of manifold pressure however the airplane was not able to maintain altitude.
Unable to achieve an airspeed greater than about 96 knots indicated the crew confirmed that the gear and flaps were in the retracted or "UP" position; however the captain could not center the slip/skid indicator completely. During this time the captain attempted to return to the airport for an emergency landing however he was unable to maintain altitude and attempted to land on an airport perimeter road, impacting the airport fence in the process. After the airplane came to a stop the captain shut down the engines, fuel pumps, and other items as required to secure the airplane. As he exited the aircraft he saw fuel coming out of the right wing onto the ground.
PROBABLE CAUSE: "A total loss of left engine power and subsequent failure of the airplane to maintain airspeed and altitude on the remaining engine for undetermined reasons."
» Plane crashes after takeoff at St. Lucie International Airport, no one seriously injured (TCPalm.com, 5-11-2009)
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This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not
display the exact flight path.
Distance from Fort Pierce-Saint Lucie County Airport, FL to Okeechobee County Airport, FL as the crow flies is 54 km (34 miles).