NYC99LA114
NYC99LA114

On May 20,1999, about 2130 eastern daylight time, a Beech V35B, N7355R, was substantially damaged during a forced landing in a residential area of Columbus, Ohio. The certificated private pilot and passenger were seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight, which originated from Ohio State University Airport (OSU), Columbus. No flight plan had been filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to interviews with inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airplane departed OSU about 1950, destined for Atlantic City, New Jersey (ACY), with full main and wing tip fuel tanks. En route, the pilot noticed that the radios were becoming weaker and static was heard. The cabin lights also appeared to be dimming. In the vicinity of Wheeling, West Virginia, the pilot lost radio communications, and elected to return to OSU.

The pilot also reported that the fuel gages showed less fuel remaining onboard than he had calculated should have been present at that point in the flight. Due to the perceived higher than normal fuel consumption, the pilot switched tanks to the right tip tank, which contained 20 gallons. On the return flight to OSU, the lights continued to dim further. The pilot attempted to use a flashlight, however, the batteries were weak and that light was dim, as well.

When the pilot arrived in the area of OSU, he overflew Runway 9R at OSU in an attempt to alert the control tower of his arrival. The OSU local controller reported he observed the airplane and gave the pilot a steady green light. However, the pilot reported that he did not observe the light.

At the same time, the passenger used a cell phone and called 911. He told the 911 operator of the electrical problems they were experiencing and asked for the phone number to the control tower. The 911 operator experienced difficulty in understanding the caller, and after a few minutes the connection was broken.

Following the control tower flyby, the pilot entered a left downwind for landing on Runway 9R. As the airplane was banked steeply, turning from base to final, the engine which was still being fed from the right tip tank experienced a power loss. The pilot then switched tanks to the left main; however, he was unable to restart the engine.

The pilot set up for a wheels-up landing on a short east/west road in a residential area, west of the airport. The airplane contacted the ground, and struck several mail box posts during the ground slide. A post-crash fire developed under the wings and fuselage. Residents responded immediately and assisted the occupants in exiting the burning airplane. Fire trucks arrived a few minutes later and extinguished the fire.

After the forced landing, the 911 operator established telephone contact with the OSU control tower and informed them of the telephone call he had received. The controller informed the 911 operator they had seen the flyby, and could see smoke rising from the last known position of the airplane.

Examination of the wreckage revealed that the fuel lines were intact, and there were no blockages in the lines. The alternator switch was found off, and the master switch was found on. The airplane battery was checked, and found to be discharged. When a charge was applied, the battery took the charge and held it. The emergency landing gear extension system was examined and all components were found to be attached, and marked in accordance with the flight manual. Testing of the alternator and engine driven fuel pump revealed no problems.

The supplemental type certificate (STC) for the tip tanks contained the following procedures, "...FUEL FROM TIP TANKS MAY...BE USED IN LEVEL FLIGHT ONLY."

FAA inspectors reported the pilot was not certain if he had turned the alternator switch on prior to departure. In addition, the pilot was not familiar with the emergency landing gear extension procedures for the airplane.

Prior to departure, the pilot had experienced difficulty in starting the engine. Another pilot reported that he started the engine on the accident airplane using the checklist in the airplane flight manual, and observed the alternator inoperative light was operative.

Examination of the checklist for the V35B revealed the alternator was turned on after engine start, and was checked again in cruise flight.

The airplane was operated by a flying club, which operated several different airplanes. The keys to each airplane were maintained within a locked key box, and each member was supplied with a key to the key box. Included in the airplanes operated by the club were two Beech Bonanzas. Due to the different configuration of the fuel system in the accident airplane, which included both wing tanks and tip tanks, the pilot was required to have a separate checkout in that airplane. In October 1998, the pilot was checked out in the other airplane. Club records indicated he had made three flights in the Bonanza without tip tanks, but none in the accident airplane. In the preceding 90 days to the accident, club records indicated the pilot had flown 2 hours.

According to FAA records, the pilot's last medical certificate was issued on July 3, 1991.

The pilot received the NTSB Form 6120.1/2 from the FAA inspector, and after completing a few items returned it to the FAA unsigned and uncompleted. The pilot subsequently surrendered his pilot certificate to the FAA.

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