On February 2, 1997, at 0950 hours mountain standard time, a Beech N35, N61DE, operated by Diamond Eagle Inc., Carefree, Arizona, experienced a total loss of engine power while in the traffic pattern at the Payson, Arizona, airport. The pilot made a forced landing into trees and brush short of runway 24. The airplane was substantially damaged, and the private pilot and passenger received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Carefree at 0930.

On February 5, 1997, the pilot verbally reported that the engine power loss had not been preceded by any unusual vibrations, smoke, or sounds. He stated that the engine lost power after he had lowered the landing gear and went through the "GUMP" check list. He first detected the power loss when he attempted to increase engine power on the extended downwind leg. Turning on the electric boost fuel pump had no effect. When the pilot began the flight the left and right fuel tanks contained approximately 37 and 32 gallons of fuel, respectively.

The pilot subsequently made the following written statement about the sequence of events: "I tried the to restart the engine. No response. I turned toward the airport and again attempted to restart. No response. I lost altitude fast. No hope of making the airport."

The pilot further reported that as the airplane came to rest it collided with 10- to 15-foot high trees and brush. Immediately after stopping the odor of fuel was noted. An examination of the airplane revealed both fuel tanks had ruptured. The left fuel tank was found ripped open and was dry; the right tank contained about 10 gallons of fuel.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) coordinator reported that he examined the recovered airframe wreckage and the engine. According to the FAA, the engine was started and it functioned. Normal operation of both magnetos was noted. No abnormal conditions were found. The reason for the power loss was not determined.

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