On October 12, 1996, at 1108 central daylight time, a Lancair 235, N90WH, registered to and operated by a private pilot collided with a ditch during a forced landing eight miles east of the Kansas City Downtown Airport, Kansas City, Missouri. The pilot stated the engine lost power when he was returning to the airport to land. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was not operating on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions existed. The airplane was substantially damaged. The pilot and passenger were not injured. The flight originated from the Kansas City Downtown Airport at approximately 1045 cdt.

The pilot stated that he visually checked the fuel tanks prior to takeoff and he estimated he had approximately 8-10 gallons of fuel which would yield 1 1/2 hours of flight time. He stated he verified the fuel level by using the sight gauge in the cockpit. The pilot stated that approximately 15 minutes into the flight he noticed the fuel sight gauge was indicating a low fuel level. He contacted Kansas City Approach Control and turned around to return to the airport. The pilot stated that approximately 8 minutes later fuel exhaustion occurred.

The pilot stated he attempted to land the airplane on a gravel road but was unable to align the airplane properly due to the crosswind. He then selected a wheat field in which to land. All three landing gear separated from the airplane during the landing roll.

The airplane was inspected by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airworthiness Inspector who reported that approximately 1/2 cup of fuel remained in each wing fuel tank. He also reported that the fuel level in the center tank was below the pick-up line and the main fuel line to the engine did not contain any fuel.

The pilot reported that after the accident he tested the fuel system and discovered that the carburetor float valve was stuck in the open position which allowed for 4 to 5 times the normal fuel flow.

The FAA Inspector reported that the right side of the fuselage approximately 1/2 way between the cockpit and empennage contained an 18" long cut through the structure. The tailwheel contacted and punctured a hole in the horizontal stabilizer. The inboard 1/3 the right horizontal stabilizer leading edge was crushed back approximately 2" and the cockpit floor was crushed upward.

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