On July 6, 1999, at 0840 central daylight time, a Cessna 172N, N739ND, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing, in an open field near Addison, Illinois. The commercial pilot and two passengers reported minor injuries. The aerial observation CFR 14 Part 91 flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions. No flight plan was on file. The local flight departed DuPage Airport, near West Chicago, Illinois at 0555.

In his written statement, the pilot said the airplane was in cruise flight about 1,000 feet above ground level when the engine suffered a loss of power. He said he attempted to restart the engine and it did regain power for a short period, but then lost total power and a forced landing was conducted. He said that prior to landing he, "... verified mixture rich, barb heat on, fuel selector on both, checked mags on L, R, and Both, checked primer in and locked... ." The landing was made in a wet open field.

The recorded temperature was 79 degrees (F) and dew point was 69 degrees (F), at an airport 15 miles to the north of the accident site, 13 minutes after the accident.

Examination of the accident airplane at the accident site revealed the left fuel tank contained no fuel, while the right fuel tank was full. The fuel selector was found in the "Off" position. Both magnetos were checked and sparked. There was continuity through the magneto switch. Fuel flow check was conducted with the selector valve in "Both," "Left," and "Right" positions. All positions checked. The fuel filter was found to be clean.

Subsequently the airplane was moved to a remote location and further inspection checked the venting system in both wings and the selector valve for a second time and found to operate. Cylinder compression on all four cylinders was checked and found within specifications. The carburetor was removed and bench checked and found to be within specifications.

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