On October 24, 1993, at 1140 Pacific daylight time, a Beech B-35, N5005C, landed in an open field during a forced landing at Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Airfield (AFAF), Indian Springs, Nevada. The pilot was conducting a visual flight rules cross country flight to Bishop, California. The airplane, registered to and operated by Bonanza Partnership, Las Vegas, Nevada, was substantially damaged. The certificated private pilot and passenger received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight originated at North Las Vegas Air Terminal (VGT), Las Vegas, Nevada, at 1100 hours. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot reported to a FAA inspector from the Las Vegas Flight Standards District Office that the engine lost power and began to "sputter" while changing fuel tanks from the left fuel tank to the auxiliary fuel tank. The pilot stated to the inspector that the red light in the dash came on and the fuel selector handle came off in his hand. The pilot made similar statements to Indian Springs AFAF personnel and hospital paramedics.
The FAA inspector examined the airplane and found the fuel selector handle still on its shaft and that it did not come off. The inspector also noted that the left fuel tank was full and fuel "Gushed Out" when the fuel cap was removed. The inspector also found the right main fuel tank empty.
According to Beech representatives, the fuel system in the Beech B-35 sends more fuel to the engine than needed during normal operations. The excess fuel bypasses the engine and returns to the left tank. This necessitates selection of the left fuel tank initially to provide space in the fuel tank to accommodate the bypassed fuel.
The fuel selector valve and hand fuel pump are combined in one unit. The fuel pump is operated by disengaging the fuel selector valve and pumping the handle up and down. A red light illuminates on the instrument panel to inform the pilot the fuel selector is disengaged.
The pilot's operating handbook for the Beech B-35 states, "TO SELECT TANK PUSH HANDLE DOWN, ENGAGE VALVE AND TURN, KEEP HANDLE ENGAGED WHEN NOT PUMPING." To select the auxiliary tank from the left tank, the handle would have to turn clockwise 1/4 turn.
The FAA inspector indicated he believed the pilot took off with the right tank selected. When the pilot elected to switch to the auxiliary fuel tank, he turned the selector handle clockwise from the right fuel tank position to the off position. The pilot then pulled the handle up disengaging the fuel selector valve. The FAA inspector supported the sequence of events by the fact the left tank was full when it should have been less than full if it had been selected.
The pilot did not submit a pilot accident report, NTSB Form 6120.1/2. Pilot logbook information and aircraft information was obtained from the airplane owner's insurance adjuster. Review of the information indicated the pilot had about 7 hours of flight experience in Beech B-35 airplanes. There were no records found or presented to the Safety Board that indicated the pilot had received any training in Beech B-35 airplanes or training on the Beech B-35 fuel system.