CHI99LA065
CHI99LA065

On January 17, 1999, at 1445 central standard time, a Piper PA- 32-260, N40712, operated by a private pilot, lost engine power during cruise flight. During the subsequent forced landing, the airplane sustained substantial damage when it impacted into a corn field. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. There was no flight plan on file. The pilot and three passengers on board the airplane reported no injuries. The cross-country flight originated at Chicago/Romeoville, Illinois, at 1200 cst, and was en route to Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

In his statement, taken by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors, the pilot said that just south of Champaign, Illinois, the weather started to deteriorate, so he elected to return to the Lewis/Lockport Airport, Romeoville, Illinois, where his flight originated. When reaching the vicinity of the Lewis/Lockport Airport, the pilot said that there were lower ceilings (overcast cloud cover) over the airport which prohibited him landing there. He then noted that he was running low on fuel. The pilot said he was unsure of his position, but would attempt to find the Dupage County Airport, West Chicago, Illinois. When reaching the Dupage Airport area, the pilot said that the ceilings were low there too. He was 600 feet above the ground. The pilot said that he was just about to declare an emergency, when his airplane ran out of fuel. He spotted a large field and performed a forced landing. The pilot said he touched down on the main wheels. The nose gear and right main landing gear collapsed during the landing roll.

Federal Aviation Administration inspectors examined the airplane at the accident site. The airplane was found resting upright in an open, snow-covered field, 3 miles west of St. Charles, Illinois, and 10 miles west of the Dupage County Airport. The airplane's nose gear was bent aft and under the forward fuselage.

The bottom portion of the engine cowling was pushed inward and cracked. The lower firewall was bent aft and buckled outward. The engine mounts were bent downward. Both propeller blades were bent aft. No fuel was observed in any of the airplane's four fuel tanks. Flight control continuity was confirmed. Examination of the engine, engine controls, and other airplane systems revealed no anomalies.

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