LAX95LA335
LAX95LA335

On September 15, 1995, at 1145 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-18-150, N7498L, collided with grapevines in a vineyard near Bakersfield, California, during an attempted forced landing. The forced landing was precipitated by a loss of power during 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 incurred substantial damage and an undetermined amount of damage occurred to the grape crop. The certificated commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. The flight originated at Vacaville, California, on the day of the accident at 0822 as a cross-country to Barstow, California.

In a telephone interview, the pilot reported that he was in cruise flight when the engine began to run rough, accompanied by a very high oil temperature above the red line. The engine quit altogether shortly thereafter. The pilot said he was set up for a landing in a bare field when he noticed workers in the touchdown area and he was forced to land in the vineyard.

FAA airworthiness inspectors from the Fresno, California, Flight Standards District Office responded to the accident site and performed an initial on-site examination of the aircraft. The inspectors reported that no discrepancies were identified. Fuel was found in the tanks, lines, and carburetor. The engine crankshaft rotated in a normal manner.

The aircraft was transported to an aircraft maintenance facility in Ajo, Arizona, after recovery from the site. An FAA airworthiness inspector from the Scottsdale, Arizona, Flight Standards District Office, supervised a detailed examination of the aircraft on December 15, 1995. No particles or debris were found in the oil strainer or sump. The left magneto timing was 25 degrees and the right was 28 degrees. Utilizing the aircraft systems, the engine was started and run for 15 minutes at idle, mid-range, and full power settings. Engine operation was normal, with normal range oil pressures and temperatures.

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