Catastrophic Engine Failure after Takeoff

I was setting out to fly the first hour after the engine had been field overhauled/IRAN work performed. New cam shaft, lifters, bearings, connecting rod bolts, rings, and honed cylinders. Fresh zero-time propeller and prop governor.

We had started the engine 3 times and made sure everything was in great shape before this 4th time.

I performed a runup and everything was looking good, so I took off to break-in the engine. It ended up breaking instead.

First, I want to thank everyone for the kind words and praise, but more importantly, I also want to thank everyone for the constructive critical feedback. I will admit that there are some items that I was complacent in. And a lesson learned for the next flight is to create myself a special checklist for the maiden flight of the next engine, as well as many more lessons learned.

A bit of background. I am a sub-500 hour commercial pilot. I purchased the airplane in August 2020, and have 158 hours before it went down for this maintenance.

To be perfectly honest, I was in a hurry, for a couple of reasons. I had read many articles, for instance the savvy aviation article on AOPA's website at… ::


It’s very important to run the engine hard right from the outset. Keep ground running to a minimum, avoid a protracted preflight runup, and don’t cycle the propeller more than once (and as shallowly as possible). The reason for all this is that running a freshly honed cylinder at low power for any significant length of time can cause a condition known as glazing, in which a tough residue of carbonized oil builds up on the cylinder walls and stops the break-in process dead in its tracks. Once the cylinder has become glazed, it’s no longer oil-wettable, and the only solution may be to remove and re-hone the cylinder and start the break-in process all over again.

Or ECI: Page 12, step 16:…

Or "Keep initial ground run to a minimum, only long enough to verify no fuel or oil leaks prior to the break-in flight. "


Another reason I was in a hurry, I was setting out at 4:20 PM PST, with sunset at 4:49, so I wanted to be in the air with daylight for the exact reason that became apparent in this video. Some get-there-itis. Get where? In the Air. Why? Because the shop would be closed for the next 4 days and I wanted to spend the weekend working on the break-in process.

There are a lot of questions about what would I do differently, use of checklists, procedures, the should harness, etc.

First thing I would change. Don't be in such a hurry.

A lot of the ground operations I'm performing while taxiing are me running through the runup and before takeoff checklists. This is not normal for me, I was rushing

At 3:16 I am performing a "Lights, Camera, with action to go" checklist as I turn on NAV and Strobe Lights for instance by pulling back the yoke so I can see what switches I'm flipping.

So you might be saying, how did you miss the should harness if you use checklists? Well, my only excuse is that I already performed that checklist when I taxied from the north side of the hangar to the fuel island just a few minutes prior. The "Before Starting Engine" is one I need to make sure I pick up from this point rather than the "Starting Engine" checklist.

As for what would I do differently in the air under these EXACT circumstances, I can't say that I would do anything differently, change the wrong thing I'm a smoking hole in the ground. I hope I never have to find out.

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