On April 17, 1999, about 0843 hours Pacific daylight time, a Ventura Rans S-12 homebuilt airplane, N8179V, experienced a total loss of engine power during initial climb from runway 27L at the Gillespie Field, El Cajon, California. The pilot, who owned and operated the experimental airplane, made a forced landing in a parking lot near the airport. During rollout the airplane was substantially damaged upon colliding with a light pole. The private pilot received minor injuries, and the passenger received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The personal flight was performed under 14 CFR Part 91, and originated from El Cajon about 0842.

The pilot reported that all airplane systems functioned normally upon takeoff. Between 200 and 300 feet above ground level the engine lost all power, and the propeller stopped turning. The pilot stated that he was unable to land on the adjacent runway because of other airplane traffic.

The pilot also reported that the examination of the 2-stroke, 2-cylinder Bombadier Rotax engine revealed one of the two cylinders was scored and exhibited signatures consistent with overheating. The cylinder appeared to have experienced an insufficient flow of the fuel-oil mixture. The carburetor connected to this cylinder assembly was examined and found devoid of fuel. Fuel was found in the second carburetor, which was connected to the second cylinder assembly. No obstructions were noted in any of the fuel lines, carburetors, or the Mikuni Kogyo engine driven dual fuel pump.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector examined the engine and accessories. The inspector similarly noted the scored rear cylinder and piston assembly overheating signatures. No evidence regarding the apparent interruption of fuel to the rear carburetor was found.

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