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On May 29, 1995, at 2004 central daylight time, a Beech A35, N8480A, registered to GRS Company of Downers Grove, Illinois, impacted terrain and trees off the departure end of runway 27, at Brookeridge Air Park in Downers Grove, Illinois. The airplane was destroyed by impact and post crash fire. The pilot and one passenger sustained serious injuries. The personal 14 CFR Part 91 flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions. No flight plan was on file. The local flight was originating at the time of the accident.
The pilot stated that the airplane had been flown by a partner on a flight to and from the Saint Louis, Missouri, area in the week prior to the accident. When the airplane was in Saint Louis, it was fueled to the top of both main tanks and the auxiliary tank with 100 LL aviation fuel. The airplane was parked outside overnight while in Saint Louis.
When the airplane was returned to Brookeridge Air Park it was placed in the pilot's hangar where it remained until the day of the accident. The pilot stated that he pre-flighted the airplane in the morning of the accident and found nothing unusual during the inspection. He said that he drained the sumps and found no water or foreign matter in the fuel. He did note that there was 100 LL in the main tanks.
He and a passenger conducted one local flight, which he described to be less than one hour. At the end of this flight he landed and taxied to the fuel pump where he serviced the two main tanks to the top with 80 octane aviation fuel. He stated that he did not drain the sumps after the tanks were filled.
Again with one passenger, he prepared for another local flight. He said he taxied N8480A to the east end of runway 27, did a normal run-up and went through the checklist. He said that the fuel valve was selected to the left tank. He said that the reason he knew this was from a visual inspection and the fact that it was customary to start on the left tank since all fuel bypassed by the carburetor was returned to the left tank. He said that at no time during the day did he select the auxiliary tank. He said that he was of the opinion that it was empty and had no intention to use it.
He said that takeoff was normal, the airplane accelerated normally, and a positive rate of climb was noted. At that time he selected the landing gear to be retracted and started the flaps up. He said that at about 75 to 100 feet above the ground the engine sustained a total power loss. He said that he lowered the nose and changed the fuel to the right tank and started pumping the manual fuel pump (wobble pump). When this did not restore engine power, he took his left hand off the wobble pump and held the yoke, while he moved the magneto switch with his right hand. He then said that he realized that continued flight was not possible and directed his attention to getting the airplane back on the ground since there were trees ahead. He said he left the throttle full open. He indicated that he had to force the airplane to the ground, but due to the excess speed was able to use rudder control to steer the airplane between two trees and avoid a residence.
He said that after the airplane came to rest there was a large fire surrounding the airplane. He and his passenger exited the airplane quickly, but both suffered serious thermal injuries.
The pilot stated that he did not know what caused the loss of power.
A witness to the accident furnished a written statement including information similar to that of the pilot. He said that when he approached the pilot just after the accident, the pilot told him that he had switched the fuel tanks to get a restart, but there was no time. This witness stated that once the airplane suffered a power loss, he never heard it regain power.
Trees were damaged during the impact and post accident fire.
The pilot, born July 16, 1955, was the holder of a commercial certificate and a flight instructor's certificate. He had ratings for single and multi-engine land airplanes and an instrument rating for airplanes. He was the holder of a second class medical issued October 27, 1994. His most recent biennial flight review was in the accident airplane on November 11, 1994. His total flight experience was 1,087 hours with 47 hours in this make and model of airplane.
The airplane was a Beech A35, serial number D-1900, N8480A. The airplane had a total time in service of 4,878 hours at the time of the accident. The most recent annual was conducted on April 20, 1995, and had accumulated 19 hours since that inspection.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The first indication of ground scars were horizontal cuts in the taxiway/overrun of runway 27. The slashes were consistent with size and location of the propeller blades. There were eleven parallel strikes. The distance between the first two was 35.5 inches. From the beginning of the marks to the main wreckage was a distance of 365 feet.
All components of the accident airplane were found in the debris trail. The general heading of the ground scars followed the original departure path and impacted trees at the departure end of the taxiway. The fuselage remained upright and cabin door allowed egress for the occupants.
The landing gear and flaps were retracted. No pre-existing mechanical anomalies were found in the wreckage during the post accident examination.
Both the right and left wing were broken away from the fuselage in the vicinity of the fuel tanks allowing the fuel to spill out.
No fuel remained in either tank for examination. The fuel valve was on the right tank selection.
There was a post impact fire, which ignited during the impact and destroyed much of the left wing and substantially damaged the fuselage. The airplane had been fueled to the top of the main tanks just prior to the accident.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The airplane was removed to a remote hangar for further inspection. Continuity of airframe and engine controls was established. The fuel valve was positioned to the right main tank selection. Fuel was found in the valve and wobble pump and was red in color. Fuel forward of the firewall in the lines, mechanical fuel pump, and carburetor was blue in color.
Magnetos were checked and found to operate. Spark plugs were inspected and found to contain combustion deposits. Compression on all six cylinders was within limits. Engine would rotate and there was continuity throughout.
The mechanical fuel pump and the pressure carburetor were removed and tested at an aircraft accessory shop. They were both found to operate within specifications.
At the owner of the fuel business' request, the fuel supply (80 aviation), at Brookeridge Air Park was examined on the day after the accident. It was found to contain no water or other contaminants.
Parties to the investigation were the Federal Aviation Administration, Flight Standards District Office, West Chicago, Illinois, and Beech Aircraft Corporation, Wichita, Kansas.
The airplane wreckage was released to representatives of the owner on March 12, 1996.