On December 26, 1996, at 1315 central standard time (cst), a Bellanca 17-30, N4836V, operated and owned by a private pilot, was substantially damaged following a total loss of engine power and subsequent forced landing in a field near Hayes Center, Nebraska. The private pilot and one passenger reported minor injuries. The third passenger reported serious injuries. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The flight departed Lincoln Municipal Airport, Lincoln, Nebraska, with an intended destination of Akron-Washington County Airport, Akron, Colorado. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the pilot's written statement, after planning a trip to Colorado, the pilot obtained a weather brief for the flight and started to preheat his engine for 30 minutes. After preheating, the pilot tried to start and warm up the engine. The pilot depleted the battery power and had to jump start it from his truck. He started the engine and let it warm into the green section on the oil temp gauge. The pilot then shutdown the engine and began loading the passengers and luggage. The airplane took off at approximately 1137 cst after a n engine runup. At 1145 cst, the pilot switched to right auxiliary tank. After 35 minutes, he switched to the left auxiliary tank. At 1310 cst, still on the left auxiliary tank, the engine lost total power. The pilot switched to the right auxiliary tank and attempted an unsuccessful restart. He then switched to left main tank and used the fuel boost pump thinking it was a failure of the engine driven fuel pump, but was still unsuccessful in restarting the engine. The pilot discontinued trying the fuel boost pump because of the smell of raw fuel. He then switched to the right main fuel tank and cycled the mixture, throttle and magneto switch with no success. The pilot set up a 100 knot glide. The pilot stated while landing in a wheat field, "...I pulled back and slowed to 79-80 MPH, and waited until we were about ready to hit on the embankment and pulled back all the way with the yoke, we hit hard twice and came to rest on an embankment of about 40 [degrees]."
On March 11, 1997, the engine driven fuel pump was bench tested at RLB Accessory Service, Addison, Illinois, with the following observation; output required pressure was lower than the limits required by Continental. Both high and low adjustment screws had to be adjusted to bring the fuel pump output pressure to within limits. The high pressure adjustment screw had a fuel and air leak. Examination of the high pressure screw revealed a dry rotted o-ring. Replacement of the o-ring stopped the fuel leak and air from entering the fuel system. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Principal Operation Inspector (POI) reported that the hangar where the airplane was stored had a fuel soaked piece of plywood underneath it. In addition, the pilot visually checked the fuel quantity in the main tanks the day before the flight and said they were slightly less than full. The pilot did not visually check the auxiliary tanks. A post crash examination by the FAA POI found the auxiliary fuel selector in the closed position and the main fuel tank selector on the left main tank.
The Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) notes under fuel controls section; "In the event a fuel tank has run dry and is refueled with fuel selector valve OFF, or set on other than noted tank, it is possible to have air in the lines. This should be eliminated by running up engine on Noted Tank or Tanks before TAKE-OFF". The airplane contains 19 gallons in each main fuel tank with 17 gallons in the wing auxiliary tanks. The fuel consumption is 14 GPH at 75 percent at 6,500 feet means sea level.