On September 12, 1994, at 0845 Pacific daylight time, a Beech C35, N622D, collided with rough terrain short of the runway at Borrego Springs, California, while attempting a forced landing. The forced landing was precipitated by a loss of engine power in cruise. The aircraft was owned and operated by the pilot and was on a personal cross-country flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The aircraft was destroyed in the ground collision sequence. The certificated private pilot sustained serious injuries. The flight originated at Carlsbad, California, on the morning of the accident at 0715 as a flight to Blythe, California. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
In his oral and written statements, the pilot reported that he was in cruise flight over the coastal mountains when the fuel pressure decreased and the engine quit. He attempted to restore the fuel pressure by activating the hand operated pump associated with the fuel selector and switching between the other fuel tanks; however, engine power could not be restored. The pilot spotted the Borrego Springs airport on the desert floor just beyond the mountains and attempted a forced landing on runway 25. The aircraft landed 100 yards short of the runway in rough, desert terrain.
Investigation revealed that the aircraft flew from Blythe to San Diego on September 7, where it was parked at Jimsair on Lindberg Field until September 11. Fueling records at the fixed-base operator (FBO) established that the pilot purchased 17 gallons of fuel. On September 11, the pilot flew from San Diego to Carlsbad, where the aircraft was parked overnight. No fuel was purchased at Carlsbad. The pilot departed at 0715 on the morning of the accident to return to Blythe.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors from the San Diego, California, Flight Standards District Office responded to the accident site and examined the aircraft. They reported that the fuel selector valve was positioned to the right fuel tank and the selector valve handle was extended into the hand pump operating position. No fuel was found in the right fuel tank, with no evidence of spillage noted on the surrounding ground. The left fuel tank contained about 1/4 to 1/2 capacity. No mechanical irregularities were reported by the examining FAA inspectors.
After recovery from the accident site, the aircraft fuel system components were examined in more detail. The engine-driven fuel pump was spun by an electric drill and found to function. The combination fuel selector valve unit and hand operated fuel pump was found to function in each mode.
The combination fuel selector valve and hand operated fuel pump unit has two separate modes. With the handle in the down-and- locked position, the unit functions as a fuel selector valve. When the handle is unlocked and extended into the hand operated pump position, the fuel selector valve mode is disabled.
The pilot purchased the aircraft about 3 weeks prior to the accident and has only 6 hours of experience in the aircraft.