LAX96LA241
LAX96LA241

On June 22, 1996, at 1911 hours Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 182, N3675U, collided with the ground and nosed over in soft soil during a runway overshoot while attempting a forced landing at the Mendota, California, airport. The forced landing was precipitated by a loss of power at 10,000 feet over the airport. The aircraft was operated by the owner for parachute jumping operations. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The aircraft sustained substantial damage. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. The flight originated at the Mendota airport on the day of the accident at 1850 and had transported four jumpers aloft.

The pilot was interviewed by FAA inspectors from the Fresno, California, Flight Standards District Office, and in addition, submitted a written statement. In his statements, he reported that prior to departure he used a dipstick to quantify the fuel in each tank at 12 gallons. During the entire flight, the BOTH fuel tank selector position was used and the pilot orbited the airport in a shallow right turn. The pilot said he took four jumpers aloft and the aircraft was very heavy. It would only climb in 300- to 400-foot increments as the airspeed bled off before the pilot had to lower the nose to gain more speed. After a prolonged effort, the aircraft reached 4,500 feet and one jumper left the aircraft. The pilot continued to 12,000 feet where three jumpers exited.

After all the jumpers left the aircraft, the pilot decided to do a power off stall. He stated that he was "curious about the gliding abilities of the 182" and pulled the mixture control to idle cutoff when the aircraft was over the airport at 11,500 feet. He then accomplished the stall maneuver, during which the propeller stopped rotating. The pilot's subsequent engine restart efforts during the descent to the airport were unsuccessful. In a separate interview with responding Fresno County Sheriff's deputies, he stated that he waited until the aircraft passed 5,000 feet before initiating the engine restart attempt. The pilot glided down as he orbited the airport and decided to land on runway 32 because the winds were from 330 degrees when he departed. The pilot reported that once he committed to final approach he noted that he was high and fast, then noticed that the windsock indicated a tailwind. The pilot attempted to use flaps and a prolonged slip; however, the aircraft floated down the entire length of the 3,550-foot-long runway. The aircraft finally touched down on the nose gear 280 feet beyond the runway's departure end. The nose gear collapsed and the aircraft nosed over.

An FAA airworthiness inspector responded to the accident site and examined the aircraft. The inspector reported finding evidence of fuel leakage past the filler caps as the aircraft lay upside down in the field. No discrepancies were found in the engine, the induction system, or engine compartment fuel lines/filters. With the exception of the bladder fuel tanks, no discrepancies or contaminants were found in the airframe fuel system. Detailed examination of the fuel bladder tanks revealed that portions of the cells were loose and not secured to the internal wing structure. Folds were noted on the bottom of the cells with evidence of trapped fuel in the folds and wrinkles.

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