On April 7, 1999, at 1530 central daylight time, a Mooney M20J, N9969X, piloted by an uncertificated pilot, received substantial damage during a forced landing near Vienna, Illinois. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight was not on a flight plan. The pilot and passenger were seriously injured. The flight originated from Barkley Regional Airport, Paducah, Kentucky en route to Airlake Airport near Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The pilot stated that, on April 6, 1999, he took off from Inverness, Florida, landed at Delan, Florida, picked up a passenger, and took off for Paducah, Kentucky. The airplane landed at Barkley Regional Airport.

The pilot said that while taxiing to parking, the engine quit. The pilot stated that he could not restart the engine. The airplane was tugged to a fixed base operator's (FBO) tie down. The pilot requested the tanks be topped off with fuel. The tanks were filled with 55 gallons of 100 low lead fuel. The engine was not able to be started after fueling. The pilot requested a mechanic look at his airplane. The FBO's Director of Maintenance states that after hour maintenance fees were explained to the pilot and that the pilot said that he would take care of the problem himself. The pilot said that he took the cowling off and tried to troubleshoot the starting problem. A line supervisor stated that the pilot could not find the trouble and the pilot put the cowling back on.

The Director of Maintenance said that, on April 7, 1999, the pilot telephoned the FBO and asked if the FBO would look at his airplane's starting problem. The director stated that the pilot had explained that he might have run out of gas the day before and that refueling had not helped. The director said that the pilot said he thought the problem was lack of fuel or ignition. The director said that the pilot said that he pulled a fuel line off, he ran the boost pump, and that the pilot was getting some fuel flow. The director stated that he walked out to the airplane, observed the upper cowl, and found it to be missing the screws in the nose bowl area.

A mechanic, from the FBO, troubleshot the problem. The mechanic states that the fuel system sump drain and fuel pump was checked. The airplane did not start. The mechanic checked the ignition wiring and spark plugs, found loose leads, and found one spark plug that was not torqued. The engine was rotated and no spark was observed. The magneto was checked and its points were found not opening. The magneto's points were adjusted and the airplane started. The mechanic said that he performed a run up and that "...everything performed normally."

The mechanic stated that he noted that the number two-cylinder intake was leaking fuel. This intake leak was fixed. The mechanic said that he told the pilot about "...some other items that he may want to take care of, such as wiring that could be secured better, and a clamp holding the Hobbs meter pressure switch on the engine mount could be tighter." The mechanic stated that the pilot said that "...he would take care of those things later." The mechanic said that the logbooks were not available for inspection and "...a sticky label entry was completed" for the work the mechanic accomplished.

The mechanic said that the pilot performed a preflight walk around, that he heard the airplane was run up, heard that the magneto check and propeller check was performed, heard the airplane taxi out, and heard the airplane power up for takeoff. The mechanic stated, "Everything sounded normal and the take off was uneventful."

Approximately 15 minutes after takeoff, the pilot declared an emergency with the Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) at Barkley Regional Airport. He asked the ATCT for radar vectors to the nearest airport. ATCT informed him that they had no radar and that he would have to contact Memphis Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) for those services. He contacted Memphis ARTCC and was given a transponder code. The pilot last reported, "Ah right I'm looking to at a gravel road here." The airplane was found in a rough and uneven pasture approximately three miles north of Vienna, Illinois. The pilot was interviewed and has stated that he does not recall the accident flight.


The pilot did not have a private pilot certificate at the time of the accident. His private pilot certificate had been revoked. The order of emergency revocation was dated August 22, 1996. His Third Class Medical, dated September 28, 1998, showed a restriction that he must wear corrective lenses. The pilot stated that his total time was 620 hours with 20 hours in this model airplane. His statement showed he had 16 hours of flight time in this model in the last 90 days and 12 hours in the last 30 days.


The airplane was N9969X, a Mooney M20J, manufactured in 1981, with serial number 24-1243. The installed engine was a Lycoming IO-360, with serial number L-10791-51A.

The last annual inspection was completed on July 7, 1998. Logbook entries showed the engine tachometer read 4043.9 at that time. The pilot stated that total time on the airplane was 4520.


The Barkley Regional Airport weather observation at 1556 was: Wind 230 degrees at 9 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition clear; temperature 11 degrees C; dew point 6 degrees C; altimeter 30.05 inches of mercury.


The Bendix dual magneto from N9969X was inspected on April 23, 1999 at RLB Accessory, Addison, IL. Present were parties from the FAA, Midwest Aviation, and Lycoming. The magneto did not have a data plate or identifiable markings on it other than 9969X marked in black ink on it. General inspection showed no impact damage, correct parting marks lined up, and the impulse coupling freely moved.

The unit was mounted up to a test bed and tested. The magneto did not spark. Both "P" leads were removed, and found to be in a worn and flattened condition. The magneto was tested again with no exhibited spark. Test "P" leads were installed, magneto tested, and again no spark.

The cap was removed. The ignition points/cam follower assemblies were found in a condition where neither opened with coupling rotation. The points were identified as Electrosystem ES10-382585 points with a 9316 code date. Both sets of points were securely mounted.

The right set of points was missing its felt keeper. The right follower was worn and exhibited a brown color. The right points were gapped to .016" and magneto tested. The right side of the magneto exhibited spark at all right leads.

The left set of points exhibited the same wear pattern and color. The left points were gapped to .016" and the magneto tested. All leads exhibited spark. The original "P" leads were installed, the magneto tested again, and all leads exhibited spark.

The right and left magneto coils were checked with a Grahm Lee Model 31 tester. The coils were both found operational. The right and left capacitors were checked. The tester indicated that both right and left capacitors did not pass the test. The capacitors had a 9219 code date. A new, like capacitor was removed from its OEM packaging and tested. The tester indicated that this new capacitor passed the test.

The Bendix magneto was test run for 30 minutes. The magneto was run an additional 10 minutes with a heat lamp on it. The cap was removed and gaps were measured. The right point exhibited .003" wear and the left exhibited .001" wear.

The Mooney's fuel servo unit was also tested at RLB Accessory. The unit was marked with P/N 2524054-11, S/N 81745. General inspection showed no impact damage. The unit operated within service limit specifications repeatedly during all phases of testing. The idle and cutoff tests were normal.

The engine driven fuel pump was inspected. The pump sustained damage that separated the pump body from its mounting flange. The pump was not able to be physically tested. It was disassembled. The inspection showed corrosion on half of the metal washer attached to the pump diaphragm and corrosion on the in and out ports.


Barkley Regional Airport airfield inspection reports showed no discrepancies for April 6 and 7, 1999. The ramp, Taxiway C, and runway 14 were inspected for any debris. No debris was found.

The parties to the investigation included the Federal Aviation Administration, Midwest Aviation, and Textron Lycoming.

The tested parts were released to an individual named by the owner.

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