LAX96LA126
LAX96LA126

On March 2, 1996, at 1311 hours Pacific standard time, a homebuilt experimental Worthington BD-5B airplane, N69SW, collided with ground obstructions during a forced landing on a freeway median near San Martin, California. The forced landing was precipitated by a total loss of power during the takeoff initial climb from the South County Airport. The aircraft was owned and operated by the pilot and was beginning a local area personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The aircraft incurred substantial damage and the certificated private pilot, the sole occupant, sustained serious injuries.

According to the pilot, the Honda engine-powered airplane was in the takeoff initial climb from runway 32 when the engine failed. The pilot was attempting a landing on a freeway median and collided with a sign and fence posts.

FAA inspectors from the San Jose, California, Flight Standards District Office examined the aircraft and supervised a test engine run. The reporting inspector noted that the instrument panel toggle switch marked "ignition" would not stay in the up (on) position. An A & P mechanic then removed the switch from the panel. The inspector stated that the plastic back casing of the switch was broken with no impact damage or deformation found in the surrounding structure. The mechanic who removed the switch stated that it was installed "excessively tight into the panel." After removal from the panel, the switch would stay in the up (on) position. The engine was then successfully started and run, with throttle and mixture control authority demonstrated.

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