NTSB Identification: SEA04LA179.
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Accident occurred Friday, September 03, 2004 in Chewelah, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/24/2005
Aircraft: Hardin Lancair 320, registration: N320MC
Injuries: 2 Minor.

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

Both the pilot and pilot rated passenger reported that this was the first flight after the engine had been rebuilt. The flight was planned to circle the airport environment to "break-in" the engine. The engine had been operating at 75 % power for the 30 minutes and readings for engine performance and fuel consumption were recorded. The pilots then decided to land at the airport they had been circling. Both pilots reported that just after the landing gear was lowered, they both smelled a heavy odor of fuel. About two minutes later, the engine began to sputter and subsequently quit. Unable to accomplish a successful landing at the airport, the pilot elected to perform a forced landing to an open field. The aircraft's left wingtip contacted the surface first and the aircraft cartwheeled before coming to rest. Post-accident inspection of the wreckage found a small amount of fuel in one wing, however, due to the severity of the break-up of the structure and compromise of the fuel system, the source of the fuel leak could not be determined.

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

Fuel exhaustion as a result of a fuel leak from an undetermined location resulting in a loss of engine power during approach for landing and subsequent forced landing. Soft terrain was a factor.

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