LAX94LA281
LAX94LA281

On July 11, 1994, at 1344 Pacific daylight time, a homebuilt experimental Long-EZ airplane, N353H, sustained substantial damage when it crashed short of the runway at Camarillo, California. The aircraft was owned and operated by the pilot and had been on a solo flight. Visual meteorological conditions were prevalent at the time and no flight plan had been filed. The certificated private pilot sustained minor injuries. The flight originated from the Camarillo airport at 1300 on the day of the accident.

The pilot reported that he had conducted a thorough preflight inspection and run-up before departure. After takeoff, the pilot made one touch-and-go approach and landing before departing the traffic pattern to the west. After climbing to 4,500 feet msl, the pilot conducted a speed check over the ocean for the next 5 to 10 minutes. After completion of the check, the pilot then throttled back and began a gradual descent while turning back toward the Camarillo airport. To this point, the pilot reported no abnormal indications from the aircraft.

The pilot stated that he made an initial radio call to the Camarillo Tower 5 miles north of the airport while at 2,500 feet msl. The tower operator cleared the pilot for an approach to runway 26R. Continuing the approach, the pilot stated that while he was approximately 2 miles from the airport and descending between 1,500 and 1,200 feet msl, he heard what he described as the sound of the engine "missing." Shortly thereafter, he reported that the "engine began to die." He made a radio call to the tower reporting engine problems and was cleared for an approach to either runway 8 or 26.

The pilot stated that as he approached the midfield point of the runway, he felt uncertain whether or not he had sufficient altitude to reach the runway. Consequently, the pilot said he began looking at possible forced landing sites, but because of numerous personnel working in the immediate vicinity he opted to continue toward the airport, initiating a 15-degree bank turn toward the approach end of runway 8.

While still about 2,000 feet from the approach end and 300 feet north of the runway centerline, the aircraft descended into a bean field, touching down at a ground speed estimated by the tower operator as approximately 50 knots. The ground scars indicate that the main gear contacted first, sinking into soft soil on rollout. During rollout, the nose gear settled, dug in, and collapsed allowing the aircraft to nose over onto its back.

After the aircraft came to rest inverted, the pilot found himself trapped in the cockpit. He stated that he was able to exit only after rescuers were able to roll the aircraft from its final position.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors reported that a postaccident inspection revealed only a few teaspoons of fuel in the carburetor and gascolator. According to the inspector, there was reportedly less than 2 gallons of fuel in the left tank, while the right tank contained 5 to 6 gallons. The fuel selector was found on the left tank. The pilot reported that he took off with the fuel selector on the left tank and did not switch tanks at any point during the flight.

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