NTSB Identification: SEA99FA015.
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Accident occurred Sunday, November 15, 1998 in FERNDALE, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/11/2000
Aircraft: Piper PA-23-150, registration: CFJXG
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

While en route at 2,200 feet msl, the pilot noticed a gradual loss of power in the right engine. Soon thereafter, the right engine power settled back to about 1,400 rpm. While the pilot was trying to find out what was wrong with the engine, the aircraft's cabin door popped open. Instead of making a precautionary landing at one of the airports he passed en route, the pilot attempted to continue on to his ultimate destination. Because he was having trouble holding altitude with the door partially open and the right engine at 1,400 rpm, the pilot elected to shut down the right engine. After shutting down the engine, it became obvious to the pilot that he could not make it to the airport, so he elected to land in a nearby field. While attempting an intentional gear-up on the soft, wet terrain, the aircraft sustained substantial damage. The investigation revealed that the aircraft had not flown for nearly 13 years prior to the day of the accident, and that even after seeing a thick, gooey, white substance flow out of the right fuel sump drain, the pilot did not examine the fuel system further. The loss of power was ultimately determined to have resulted from the accumulation of solid contaminants in the carburetor finger screen, resulting in a substantial restriction of the fuel flow to the cylinders.

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

The pilot's improper decision to attempt to reach his final destination after a partial loss of engine power, instead of making a precautionary landing at one of the airports he overflew along his route. Factors include an inadequate preflight, a fuel filter flow restriction leading to fuel starvation, the decision to land with the gear retracted, and soft, wet terrain at the location where the forced landing was attempted.

Full narrative available

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