On July 26, 1998 at 1330 eastern daylight time, a Beech BE 24, N9711L, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to the Glade Springs Resort, Beckley, West Virginia. The certificated commercial pilot received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that originated at the Raleigh County Memorial Airport (BKW), Beckley, West Virginia, approximately 1300. No flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

In a telephone interview, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aviation Safety Inspector stated he had interviewed the pilot. According to the Inspector, the purpose of the flight was to charge the airplane's battery. The pilot reported he was in cruise flight, approximately 15 minutes after departing Beckley, when the engine started "...surging and sputtering." The pilot reported he turned for the Raleigh County Airport and initiated a climb. He said he changed the fuel selector from the right tank position to the left, but "...nothing happened." He moved the fuel selector back to the right tank, and selected a golf course for a forced landing site.

After the accident, the pilot was interviewed by a Trooper of the West Virginia State Police. According to the Trooper's report:

"The engine stopped running at about 4,000 feet. He was attempting to land on the fairway of Glade Springs Golf course. The plane hit some trees and lost part of the left wing. The plane came to rest in a pond. The plane was totally covered by the water. Mr. Hicks had to swim to the bank."

The airplane remained submerged for approximately 48 hours. Recovery of the wreckage was supervised by two FAA Aviation Safety Inspectors. In a written statement, one Inspector said their examination of the wreckage revealed that the right fuel tank was completely empty, not contaminated by water, and that the fuel selector was in the right tank position. Further examination revealed the left tank contained approximately 27 gallons of fuel and an unknown quantity of water. According to the Inspector, the left and right fuel tanks had a capacity of 29.9 gallons each.

The pilot reported he had 30 gallons of fuel on board at last takeoff.

The propeller was turned by hand and continuity was established through the power train to the accessory section. The fuel system was examined and no evidence of fuel was found in the engine-driven fuel pump, fuel injector, or flow divider manifold. No evidence of fuel was found in the fuel line to the fuel pressure gauge.

Examination of fuel records revealed the airplane's most recent fuel service was for 23 gallons of fuel on May 30, 1998. The pilot reported to the FAA Aviation Safety Inspectors that the airplane accumulated approximately two hours of flight time after the service.

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