CHI97LA173
CHI97LA173

On June 19, 1997, at 0635 central daylight time, a Beech V35B, N25643, sustained substantial damage when it impacted the terrain after a power loss during initial climb. The airplane was departing from Lee C. Fine Memorial Airport, near Kaiser, Missouri, with an intended destination of Kirksville Regional Airport, Kirksville, Missouri. The private pilot suffered minor injuries. The personal 14 CFR Part 91 flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions. No flight plan was on file.

In a written statement, the pilot in command reported that this was the third flight of the accident aircraft after the completion of the airplane's annual inspection. The previous day the pilot had completed a cross-country flight from the airplane's home base in Kirksville (IRK), Missouri, to Bowling Green (H19), Missouri, and completing in Kaiser (AIZ), Missouri. Before the cross-country flight the pilot reported that he filled the airplanes tanks with approximately 80 gallons of fuel. The pilot stated that the cross-country flight took approximately 1.25 hours to complete. Upon arrival at Lee C. Fine Memorial Airport (AIZ), Kaiser, Missouri, the pilot reported that he, "noticed a fuel streak on the left wing and left side of my aircraft." The pilot stated that he contacted the mechanic who completed the annual inspection on the aircraft and discussed the possible problems with the fuel leak. The pilot reported that the mechanic and he determined the fuel leak was do to a faulty O-ring seal on the fuel cap, which resulted in the cap not seating correctly.

The pilot stated that the next morning he was to finish his cross-country by flying back to the airplane's home base in Kirksville (IRK), Missouri. The pilot reported that during his preflight he inspected the fuel cap and visually checked that there was fuel in the left tank. The pilot stated, "Upon pushing on the wing, I determined that I could both hear and see fuel in the tank. It was low, but not wanting to add more fuel until we tested the fuel cap, I elected to leave it as was." The pilot reported that the fuel gauges showed the left tank at 1/2 full and the right tank at 3/4 full.

The pilot reported that during engine run up he, "placed the [fuel selector] lever on the right tank for takeoff, knowing the left tank has the least amount of fuel on board." The pilot stated, "the engine felt and sounded strong and there was no indication of any problem." The pilot then departed Lee C. Fine Memorial Airport (AIZ) at 0630 central daylight time.

The pilot reported that at approximately 800 feet he, "felt a hesitation and then the engine totally failed." The pilot stated that he immediately switched fuel tanks, and nothing happened so he switched the fuel selector back to the right tank. The pilot indicated that, "The airplane began to become hard to fly due to loss of airspeed." The pilot stated that he then began to initiate a forced landing into a nearby corn field. The pilot reported that once he had the field made he lowered the landing gear and landed the airplane into the predetermined field.

Post crash investigation of the airplane showed that there was substantial damage to the right wing, cowling, propeller and underside of the fuselage. A FAA Airworthiness Inspector drained the right and left fuel tanks and reported that there were 31 gallons of fuel in the right tank and zero gallons of fuel in the left tank. It was also confirmed that there was no indication of a post crash fuel leak or spill. Further investigation of the fuel injection system showed that the spider valve was void of fuel.

The engine was separated from the airplane and mounted on a test stand for examination and a test run. The engine test was completed by an Airframe & Powerplant Mechanic (AMP) and a FAA Airworthiness Inspector. The engine started up and ran on the first attempt, and was run at different engine RPM's. Next the engine was stopped and re-started multiple times with no problems. The FAA inspector commented that the engine ran erratically at different points during the test, and this was most likely caused by crash damage to the ignition system components. It was reported by the FAA Airworthiness Inspector, "that the engine will start and run if supplied with fuel and the erratic operation during the tests resulted from the accident damage."

Further investigation of the operation of the airplane showed that the Beech V35B was placarded that there should be 13 gallons of fuel in both tanks before flight is attempted. The Pilot's Operating Handbook confirmed that the placard was correct for the make and model of aircraft in question.

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