On December 26, 2007, at 1002 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-46-310P, N47BC, piloted by an Airline Transport Pilot, experienced an engine crankshaft failure and subsequent propeller separation, approximately 12.5 miles east of the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE), Aspen, Colorado.
The personal flight was being operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan from ASE to Denver, Colorado, under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The pilot and three passengers were not injured and the airplane sustained minor damage. The flight departed ASE approximately 0945.
The pilot said that on climb out passing 16,000 feet, he began to notice oil droplets forming on his windscreen. On seeing the oil, he contacted Aspen Approach, declared an emergency, and began a standard rate, 180-degree turn, back to the airport. He said the turn took about a minute.
Just as he'd completed the turn, he heard a "boom" felt a shutter, and then his whole windscreen was covered with oil. The pilot said he may have noted a pitch up with the bang, but he immediately got on the best glide speed, 90 knots, and began retracing his ground track back to the airport. The pilot said everything on the airplane continued to work. He had electrics, could navigate and got the gear down.
The pilot said because he knew the Aspen area well, he was able to navigate and set up for a dead stick landing. He said he could see the runway through the oil on his windscreen as a dark blur in the surrounding snow. He said he kept his speed up as he didn't want to land short.
Once he got close to the runway, he looked out the side windows to judge the flare and touchdown. He said he just wanted to keep the airplane in the center of the runway. He rolled out to the end of the runway and turned off on to the taxiway before stopping. The pilot said it was only when he was on the ground and one of the responding firemen informed him that he realized he didn't have a propeller.
An examination of the airplane showed minor damage to the front of the cowling. The engine showed the crankshaft fractured aft of the flange. The propeller and spinner, and the front part of the crankshaft were missing. No other damage to the airplane was found. The engine was retained for further examination.
This guy gets serious style points for thoughtfully vacating the runway after landing. Do you suppose his post-flight martini was shaken or stirred?