On September 16, 1998, about 2040 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 152, N307DW, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Ellington (7B9), Connecticut. The certificated flight instructor and student pilot were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the dual instruction flight that originated from Nashua (ASH), New Hampshire, about 1950. No flight plan had been filed for the flight that was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to an inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the dual night cross-country flight was destined for an intermediate stop at the Bradley International Airport (BDL), Windsor Locks, Connecticut, and to terminate at Keene (EEN), New Hampshire. As the flight neared BDL, the pilots made contact with Bradley Approach Control at 2027:28 and received VFR traffic advisories. The flight was instructed to maintain 3,000 feet, and fly a heading of 240 degrees.
According to a transcript from Bradley Approach Control, at 2028:46, the pilot reported, "...delta whiskey we are declaring an emergency we seem to have lost pow-" This was acknowledged by approach control who advised the pilots that Ellington Airport was 6 miles ahead of them on their heading.
When queried about their fuel supply at 2029:09, the pilot replied, "well we thought we had more than we had." The pilot then added that they may have a carburation problem. Approach control continued to provide distances and bearings to Ellington Airport.
At 2031:09, the pilot replied, "...at the present...time we seem to have full power."
When queried about their choice of landing airport, the pilots initially reported they would stick with their decision to land at Ellington. However, as they experienced difficulty in identifying Ellington, they overflew it and elected to try for Skylark Airport.
At 2036:39, they reported they were unable to find the Ellington Airport lights, and at 2036:48, requested a radar vector to it. Several radio transmissions were exchanged between the pilot and approach control in an attempt to assist the pilot in finding the airport.
At 2038:39, the pilot radioed that they, "...were not going to make that airport."
The landing was performed in an open field with a soft surface. After touchdown, the wheels dug in and the airplane nosed over. Both occupants exited the airplane unaided.
The airplane was examined by a FAA Inspector who reported both fuel tanks were empty, and the fuel gages read empty. There was no evidence of fuel siphoning, or fuel spill from under the fuel caps. About 1/4 of a cup of fuel was drained from the main sump. The fuel tanks were wet, but only contained a few ounces of fuel. All fuel recovered was bright and clear, and without visible contamination.
Interviews by the FAA Inspector disclosed the airplane departed with the fuel tanks partially filled. The pre-flight inspection of the airplane was performed by the student pilot without supervision from the flight instructor. The student pilot was not certain how to use the plastic tube used to check the fuel quantity in the fuel tank. Documents recovered from the airplane revealed the flight between ASH and BDL was planned to take about 1 hour, and the pilot had planned for 2 hours of fuel onboard at departure.
According to the FAA Airport Facility Directory, Ellington Airport did not have a rotating beacon. The runway lights were low intensity, and were placarded as non-standard, due to spacing and color variation. A check of the New York aeronautical sectional chart revealed that Ellington Airport was marked as having runway lights and no rotating beacon.
The runway at Ellington Airport was orientated 1/19, and was 1,800 feet long. The airplane was approaching Ellington Airport from the southwest, at an approximate 45 degree angle to the runway.