On September 3, 1997, at 1811 mountain daylight time, a Beech V35B, N7397R, nosed down in a ditch during an emergency landing following a loss of power while in cruise flight 3 miles southwest of Saguache, Colorado. The private pilot was not injured and the aircraft sustained substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for this personal flight operating under Title 14 CFR Part 91 and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from San Rafael, California, approximately 7 hours prior to the accident. The planned destination was Englewood, Colorado.

According to the pilot, he was in cruise flight at either "11,500 or 13,500" feet above mean sea level (msl) when a total loss of power occurred. He said he attempted an engine restart without success and then tried to glide to the Saguache airport. He could not locate the airport and ended up landing in a field where the aircraft struck a fence and came to rest in an irrigation ditch. During the landing, both wings, the propeller, and the nose landing gear sustained substantial damage.

The aircraft was recovered by a repair station located in Alamosa, Colorado. During recovery, no evidence of fuel was found in or around the aircraft. The repair station also conducted an examination of the engine at the request of the Investigator In Charge. The examination provided no evidence of malfunction, and all damage was the result of impact forces.

It was not possible to definitively calculate aircraft performance due to lack of actual information regarding weight, temperature, cruise altitude, leaning, and power setting. In addition, the Continental TSIO-550B engine is a non standard application in the V35B aircraft. However, calculations were made using TSIO-550B engine performance information, standard conditions, the pilot's stated fuel load of 114 gallons at takeoff, and his stated cruise altitude between 11,500 and 13,500 feet msl. Using that information, calculations provided evidence that the engine would have burned an average of approximately 14 gallons of fuel per hour in cruise flight. According to information provided during interview, the pilot, said he was airborne approximately 7 hours, which would give a calculated fuel burn of 98 gallons, based on cruise flight only. The actual fuel burn would be higher due to takeoff and climb power usage.

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