On Friday, July 1, 1994, at 1515 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172, N6979X, registered to Airborne Billboards, Inc., and piloted by David J. Kelly, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing on a highway in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. The pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The airplane departed the Allaire Airport, Farmingdale, New Jersey at 1400, with approximately 36 gallons of fuel, for a local banner towing flight. The pilot stated:

At approximately 3:15PM at 1000 feet heading for Allaire my engine began to sputter. I switched [fuel tanks] from "both" position to the "left" position. Engine continued to sputter. Then switched from the "left" position to the "right" position. The engine continued to sputter. I then switched back to "both." The sputtering continued. I then followed the...emergency procedures. Boost pump on, enrich the mixture, carburetor heat on, then pumped the throttle once. The engine came back to life, RPM increased then it died....[I] released the banner and looked for a place to land. I spotted a field and maneuvered toward it....I lost altitude. To reach the field was impossible. My only alternative was route 66...I landed on the highway....

In order to avoid approaching automobiles, the pilot swerved the airplane on the highway, and the nosewheel impacted a curb, which sheared the gear and buckled the firewall.

A Federal Aviation Administration Inspector, Larry Lee, examined the airplane at the accident site on the day of the day of the accident. He observed fuel in both tanks.

On July 18, 1994, Federal Aviation Administration Airwothiness Inspector John K. Ho conducted an examination of the engine. He stated in his report:

...the aircraft was rigged for a static run...The [engine] started normally and was operated at 1500 rpm, manifold pressure at 16 inches...Engine magneto check was performed and engine responded accordingly. Engine was not operated above 1500 rpm the unstable condition of the aircraft.

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