NTSB Identification: CHI96LA096.
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Accident occurred Saturday, February 24, 1996 in BOURBON, IN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/29/1996
Aircraft: PIPER PA-22-150, registration: N6939B
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

About 7 minutes after reaching cruise altitude, the pilot switched from the right to left fuel tank. He said the engine ran for about 7 more minutes and stopped. He said when he switched back to the original fuel tank, the engine power surged and then stopped. The pilot said his attempt to restart the engine was unsuccessful. The airplane was landed in a muddy field on its main landing gear, and it nosed over shortly after touchdown. The main landing gear tires were caked with mud. The tailwheel had no mud on it. An on-scene investigation revealed engine control continuity. About 7 gallons of fuel were found in the left fuel tank, and about 1 quart was found in the right fuel tank. The fuel tank cap gaskets were not damaged. Traces of dirty water were found in the carburetor float bowl and fuel strainer. The ignition system was tested, and it met the manufacturer's operating specifications. The FAA's Flight Training Handbook stated that a soft field landing in a tailwheel airplane should be done with the tailwheel touching down with or just before the main landing gear tires.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

Water contamination in the fuel, and an inadequate preflight by the pilot. Factors relating to the accident were: soft terrain in the emergency landing area, and an improper soft field landing procedure used by the pilot.

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