On October 2, 1998, at 1430 central daylight time, a Beech M35 single engine airplane, N9838R, owned and operated by the pilot, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near Carter, Oklahoma. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The flight originated from the Clinton/Sherman Municipal Airport, Clinton, Oklahoma, at 1400.

The pilot intended to remain in the traffic pattern at the Clinton/Sherman Municipal Airport, but on the initial climb passing through 800 feet AGL he observed clouds "hanging down into the downwind leg," and decided to climb above the clouds. The pilot referenced the vertical speed indicator and interpreted its display as indicating a 500 foot per minute descent, which contradicted the readings the attitude indicator and altimeter were displaying. He leveled the airplane at 8,500 feet and began to evaluate the situation.

"Approximately, 30 minutes into the flight the engine sputtered and quit." The pilot noticed that the fuel gauge for the selected tank (left main) was reading 3/4 full and then he verified that the fuel selector was on the left main. He switched the fuel selector to the right main fuel tank and attempted to restart the engine, but was unsuccessful. He then switched to the auxiliary fuel tank and attempted to restart the engine and was unsuccessful. Subsequently, he descended the airplane through several cloud layers, lowered the landing gear and attempted to land on a small, paved road. Upon touchdown, the airplane was 10 to 20 degrees out of alignment with the road. Subsequently, the airplane veered to the right into a ditch, whereby the right wing dug into the ground and spun the airplane 180 degrees.

According to the pilot the airplane underwent "extensive modifications," during the 5 to 6 months prior to the flight. An FAA certified airframe and powerplant mechanic who was working on the airplane stated that he informed the pilot that the oil temperature gauge was inoperative. The pilot asked the mechanic if "anything quickee could be done?" The mechanic attempted to correct the problem, but told the pilot, "I'm not finished with this aircraft." A few minutes later he observed the airplane take off.

Another mechanic who was installing equipment on the airplane the morning of the accident stated that the pilot appeared in the hangar at 0830 on the morning of the accident. The pilot complained because the work on the airplane was not complete. The pilot then began working on the airplane. The mechanic reported that the pilot stated "No matter what I'm pulling this airplane out and flying to Albuquerque."

A witness who conversed with the pilot at the airport the morning of the accident reported that the pilot stated that "he was going to fly his airplane whether the airplane was finished or not."

According to a work order provided by Gipson Aviation located at the Clinton Municipal Airport, Clinton, Oklahoma, and the airplane's discrepancy log, the instrument panel was repaired and reinstalled. At the time of the accident the installation work, which requires an FAA field approval before the airplane returns to service, had not been inspected by the FAA.

An FAA inspector examined the airplane at the site and reported that the left wing fuel tank was empty. The right wing fuel tank was full and the left and right auxiliary fuel tanks were full.

The aircraft is equipped with two switches for selecting a fuel tank. One switch indicates right or left and the second switch indicates main or auxiliary.

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