On September 7, 1996, at 1259 central daylight time, a Mooney M20J, N311SM, registered to and operated by a private owner under Title 14 CFR Part 91, impacted trees during an emergency landing near Biscoe, Arkansas. The private pilot sustained minor injuries and the airplane was destroyed by a post-crash fire. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed. The airplane departed Carlisle, Arkansas, about 1220 for the local personal flight.

The pilot reported that the airplane was in cruise flight at 1,500 feet agl when he "started feeling hard left pushing on the plane." The airplane "wanted to drop the left wing," and the pilot turned the yoke to the right to counteract this tendency. The airplane began to "pull downward," and the pilot applied back pressure on the yoke. He also applied nose up trim using the electric trim switch on the yoke, but this "didn't change anything." As the pilot continued to "apply hard pressure" to the yoke, he heard a "pop in the dashboard" and "thought that something had gave way," so he turned the airplane to the left to head back towards an open area. During the turn, the pilot noticed his horizontal situation indicator (HSI) was not turning, looked at the circuit breaker panel, and saw that the HSI circuit breaker had tripped.

The pilot further reported that he partially extended the flaps, lowered the landing gear, and attempted to make an emergency landing on a road, but overshot the road and touched down in a soybean field. During the landing roll, the airplane impacted a row of trees at the edge of the field. The pilot recalled hearing the electric fuel boost pump running after the airplane came to a stop and also hearing "popping and snapping" sounds coming from the engine compartment. He exited through the main cabin door, and the airplane caught fire.

On October 10, 1996, the airplane was examined under the supervision of the NTSB investigator-in-charge at Air Salvage of Dallas in Lancaster, Texas. Control system continuity from the control surfaces to the cockpit controls was confirmed for the elevator, ailerons, and rudder. All cockpit instrumentation, radio equipment, and the associated tubing and wiring were destroyed by the post-crash fire.

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