On July 17, 1999, about 1410 eastern daylight time, a homebuilt Barracuda, N849JA, was substantially damaged during a precautionary landing in Hermon, New York. The certificated private pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a visual flight rules flight plan had been filed for the flight that departed Medina, Ohio, about 1155, destined for the Massena International Airport (MSS), Massena, New York. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

In an interview with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector, the pilot stated that when the airplane was about 90 to 60 nautical miles from MSS, the left and right fuel gages were both indicating 1/8 full, and he planed to land early at the Potsdam Municipal Airport (PTD). The pilot said that due to haze and the anxiety of the situation, he was unable to find PTD, or another suitable airport. He then elected to make a precautionary landing to a grass field. The pilot circled the field once, and landed towards the east. The pilot further stated he shut down the airplane's engine just prior to touchdown.

During the landing, the airplane's landing gear separated and the airplane incurred spar damage.

Examination of the wreckage by another FAA Inspector did not reveal any pre-landing malfunctions of the airframe or engine. The left fuel gage needle indicated "E," and the right fuel gage needle indicated about 1/8 full. When the airplane was placed on level ground, visual examination of the fuel tanks revealed that about 1/4 inch of fuel remained in the left fuel tank, and approximately 4 inches of fuel remained in the right fuel tank.

The weather reported at MSS, which was located about 40 miles north of the accident site, at 1450, was: wind from 220 degrees at 12 knots with 25 knot gusts; visibility 8 statue miles; a few clouds at 4,000 feet; temperature 91 degrees F; dew point 70 degrees F; altimeter 29.99 in/hg.

The pilot reported 321.8 hours of total flight experience, of which, 18.3 hours were in the make and model of the accident airplane.

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