NTSB Identification: WPR11FA054
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, November 21, 2010 in Newport Beach, CA
Aircraft: BEECH 19A, registration: N6064N
Injuries: 3 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 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.
On November 21, 2010, about 1744 Pacific standard time, a Beech 19A, N6064N, experienced a total loss of engine power on approach to the John Wayne-Orange County Airport (SNA), Santa Ana, California. During the pilot's subsequent forced landing, the airplane descended into estimated 3-feet-deep water, nosed over, and was substantially damaged. The accident site is located about 2.7 miles south of SNA in the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve (estuary), Newport Beach, California. The private pilot and two passengers were killed. Dark nighttime visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was performed under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Calexico International Airport (CXL), Calexico, California, between 1447 and 1511.
Members of the pilot's family reported to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator that, a few days before the accident, the pilot had flown to Mexico from Zamperini Field Airport (TOA), his home base airport in Torrance, California. Two passengers accompanied the pilot on the pleasure flight. The accident occurred during the pilot's return flight home with his friends.
According to the pilot's wife, on November 21 about 1047, the pilot telephoned her. The pilot indicated that he was obtaining fuel prior to departing San Felipe International Airport, Baja California, Mexico. The pilot's wife expected her husband to fly back to Torrance and arrive during the late afternoon or early evening. En route to Torrance, the pilot was expected to fly to CXL, an uncontrolled international airport of entry into the United States.
A private pilot, who was located at San Felipe International Airport, reported to the Safety Board investigator that about 1045 he observed the accident pilot waiting in line to purchase fuel. The private pilot stated that he was unaware of the quantity of fuel purchased by the accident pilot.
The accident pilot's departure time and route of flight to CXL has not been determined. En route to CXL, the pilot transmitted to a United States based automated flight service station (PRC AFSS) that his estimated arrival time at CXL was 1400. The pilot reported that after departing CXL he planned to fly to TOA. His anticipated en route cruise altitude would be 6,500 feet mean sea level and, weather permitting, he would fly from CXL to TOA via the Julian navigation aid.
A fuel lineman at CXL reported that he spoke with the accident pilot on the afternoon of November 21, sometime after 1405 when the airplane landed. Pursuant to the pilot's request, the lineman pumped 20.0 gallons of fuel into the airplane's right wing fuel tank. He was not instructed to top off the tank. The lineman opined that adding exactly 20.0 gallons of fuel to the right wing tank did not result in it being completely filled to the brim of the filler neck. The lineman stated that he was not instructed to add any fuel to the left wing tank, and he did not know the quantity of fuel in that tank. The lineman further reported that the pilot's airplane departed CXL about 1447.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) personnel reported that the pilot did not communicate with any of its facilities during the accident flight until the pilot was flying in a northwesterly direction near the Pacific Ocean coastline and was about 10 miles southeast of SNA. This initial contact occurred with a SNA air traffic controller. The controller advised the pilot that he had been identified on radar, and the airplane was about 8 miles south-southeast of SNA. At the time, the pilot was cruising between 1,500 and 1,700 feet mean sea level.
About 2 minutes later, the pilot asked the controller where he was located (relative to SNA). The controller responded that the pilot was 5 miles south-southeast of the airport.
The Safety Board investigator's subsequent review of the recorded radio transmissions indicated that, seconds later, the pilot twice informed the controller that "we have just run out of fuel." While the airplane was descending in a northwesterly direction (toward SNA), the pilot informed the controller that he would try to reach the airport and see how close he could get.
A witness, who was located about 3/4-mile southeast of the accident site, reported observing the accident airplane flying in a northwesterly direction. The witness indicated that the airplane was at most three telephone poles' height above the ground as it flew past his location. The witness stated that he heard the airplane's engine "sputter," but it never revved up. The witness lost sight of the airplane as it descended.
At the time of the accident, a low tide condition existed, and first responders were able to walk up to the partially submerged airplane. Hours later the tide rose, and the fuselage was mostly under water.
The airplane was recovered from the accident site and examined. Control cable continuity and functionality were confirmed between the engine's throttle, mixture and carburetor controls and the engine. The propeller blades did not exhibit leading edge nicks, chordwise abrasions or torsional deformation. The engine's crankshaft rotated, and its internal gear and component continuity were confirmed. The gascolator's fuel screen was observed mostly devoid of contaminants, and the fuel tank selector rotated freely.
No fuel was found in the main fuel line to the carburetor or in the wing tanks, which contained ounces of water. Several ounces of fuel were found in the carburetor bowl and in the accelerator pump assembly.
According to the Beechcraft Musketeer Sport III "Owner's Manual" recovered from the accident airplane, the airplane is equipped with two 30-gallon fuel tanks, for a total of 60 gallons. Of this amount, 58.8 gallons of fuel are usable.
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