NTSB Identification: ANC05FA034.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, February 15, 2005 in Clearwater, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/30/2006
Aircraft: Beech 35-C33, registration: N3NM
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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.

A private pilot/mechanic and the airplane's owner, who was also a private pilot, were conducting a personal maintenance test flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the airplane had a loss of engine power and subsequent in-flight collision with two residences. The two occupants of the airplane received fatal injuries. There were no injuries on the ground. According to witnesses, the airplane had just departed a local, non-tower airport, and was in the initial climb phase, when it turned to the right, and then to the left, as if to return to the airport. They saw the wings rocking from side to side, and then the airplane entered a steep, nose-down attitude. A student pilot-witness said he saw the airplane flying low and slow overhead, and saw the airplane's nose go up, and then down, into a "classic stall-spin." A witness who spoke with the owner prior to takeoff, was told there was a problem with the fuel system, and they were going to conduct a maintenance test flight. The owner told him the pilot/mechanic had "blown out the fuel system" earlier that day. Additional witnesses said they saw the airplane taxi to the run-up area where it ran at high power for several minutes. They said after departure everything appeared normal until the airplane started a left turn toward the airport, which they thought was unusual. Numerous witnesses said they heard the engine "cutting in and out," as if it were "running out of gas," and eventually lost power. The airport's fuel truck operator said he had not fueled the airplane the day of the accident. At the accident site, the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) was contacted by a fireman who stated there was no postcrash fire, and that they did not find a significant amount of aviation fuel at the site. Inspection by the IIC disclosed that the airplane's four fuel tanks were breached during the impact, but there were no signs of fuel leaks, pooling of fuel on the ground, no fuel blight on the surrounding vegetation, and only a slight odor of fuel around the wreckage. An examination of the engine was conducted by the IIC and a representative of the engine's manufacturer. The intact fuel injection manifold valve and associated fuel lines were disassembled, and no fuel was present. Further examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical problems.

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

The loss of engine power during initial climb due to fuel exhaustion, the pilot's failure to refuel the airplane, and the pilot's failure to maintain minimum airspeed, which resulted in an inadvertent stall and uncontrolled descent into a residence.

Full narrative available

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