On May 1, 1999, approximately 0740 central daylight time, a Luscombe 8E experimental airplane, N2638K, was substantially damaged during a forced landing, following a loss of engine power near Conroe, Texas. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 cross-country positioning flight. The aircraft was registered to and operated by the Don Luscombe Aviation History Foundation of Chandler, Arizona. The airline transport pilot, sole occupant of the aircraft, was seriously injured. The flight originated from Lafayette, Louisiana, at 0600, and was en route to Austin, Texas. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the FAA inspector, the pilot contacted Houston Center and reported the turboprop powered aircraft was experiencing engine problems. Houston Center gave the pilot radar vectors to the nearest airport; however, the aircraft was unable to make the airport.
The pilot reported that he descended from 5,500 feet msl to 3,500 feet msl in order to take advantage of the "higher tailwinds." After about 10 to 15 minutes, he observed a fuel flow "fluctuation from 15 GPH to 12 GPH, back to 15 GPH, then 11 GPH, and finally to about 2 GPH." Subsequently, the engine lost power. "Two restart cycles were attempted. One on the right tank, and a second on the left tank, though abbreviated due to proximity to the ground. The engine did not re-light, and power was not regained."
The 14,000-hour pilot reported to the NTSB investigator-in-charge that he was unable to locate the airport that ATC had identified as the nearest airport and prepared for a forced landing to a road. At about 100 feet agl, he initiated a turn to the west in order to see the traffic on the road. The aircraft passed under a 35 foot high power line. As the aircraft crossed over the road, "the left wingtip and left main gear contacted the asphalt road, very hard. The gear sheared and ricocheted off the wing strut. The propeller hit at a 15 degree nose down attitude, and the right gear sheared, leaving me [the aircraft] skidding on the belly." The aircraft came to rest upright in a ditch, which paralleled the road.
Examination of the aircraft by the FAA inspector revealed that both wings were structurally damaged, the firewall was buckled, and the empennage was bent. There was evidence at the accident site of a fuel spill.
Examination of the fuel system by the pilot revealed a "caterpillar lodged in the forward facing vent" to the right wing fuel tank. The other four small auxiliary holes in the tank cap did not "seem capable of venting the tank while fuel is used at a rate of 15 GPH."
According to the pilot, a post accident examination and test run of the engine was satisfactory. At the time of the accident, there were 30 gallons of fuel on board.