On March 5, 1997, at 1615 eastern standard time, a Bellanca BL26, N7312V, collided with trees while maneuvering for a forced landing in a field eight miles east of Aikens, South Carolina. The business flight operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91, with no flight plan filed. Visual weather conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The airplane received substantial damage; the pilot sustained minor injuries. The flight departed Raleigh, North Carolina, at 1430.

The pilot reported that he was returning to Augusta, Georgia, when the engine lost power near Aikens. He initiated an emergency descent for a forced landing. As he maneuvered for a landing in a nearby field, the airplane collided with two trees in the intended landing area. According to the pilot, the airplane has a fuel endurance of 4.8 hours and he had flown about 3.0 hours since the last refueling.

The examination of the engine assembly disclosed that there was a fuel leak around the shaft in the metering unit. The nature of the leak was a steady stream, such that, it was not possible to flow test the unit. Smaller leaks were also found in the fuel pump from the shaft seal and the adjustable orifice o-ring (see attached report of the engine examination).The control linkage on the fuel metering unit and the throttle body was excessively worn. No fuel was recovered from the fuel system during the on site examination.

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