NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The pilot reported that the airplane had 7 gallons of fuel and that he had planned a short flight to a nearby airport to purchase more fuel. During initial climb, about 750 ft above ground level, the engine experienced a partial loss of power. The pilot applied carburetor heat, but the engine rpm remained at about 1,700, and he was unable to maintain the airplane's altitude. He then turned the airplane back toward the airport and realized that it was not going to reach the runway. The pilot subsequently attempted to land in a field ahead of the runway, but the airplane impacted and came to rest in trees just ahead of the field.
The airplane's left wing fuel tank cap was found on the runway; it likely became separated during the takeoff roll. About 2 gallons of fuel was drained from each wing fuel tank after the accident, and more fuel may have leaked out after the accident due to the airplane's position; therefore, it is unlikely that fuel leaked out during the brief flight. The engine was subsequently successfully test-run on the airframe. Review of a carburetor icing chart revealed that the atmospheric conditions at the time of the accident were outside of the icing envelope. Thus, the reason for the loss of engine power could not be determined.