On August 20, 1999, at 0950 central daylight time, a Cessna 182B airplane, N7277E, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power at the Clover Field Airport, Houston, Texas. The instrument rated commercial pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, sustained serious injuries. The airplane was registered to a private individual and operated by Nighthawk Advertising, Inc., of Houston, Texas. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 banner tow flight. The local flight originated from the Clover Field Airport approximately 0745.

According to the pilot and witnesses, the airplane approached the airport from the south and "dropped the banner" in the designated banner drop zone between runways 32L and 32R. The airplane was then observed turning left turn onto the crosswind leg for runway 32L. When the airplane was over a wooded area north of the airport, climbing through 400 feet agl, the pilot reported on the unicom frequency (122.8) "Mayday" and stated that the engine experienced a loss of power. The pilot continued banking left toward the airport.

The airplane impacted the ground and came to rest upright, approximately 600 feet north of the approach end of runway 4, on a heading of 090 degrees. The FAA inspector and emergency/rescue personnel, who were the initial responders to the accident site, stated that there was "no fuel spill at the crash." Additionally, a witness, who responded to the accident site, stated that the "fuel lines were separated from the aircraft, [and he] didn't see or smell fuel."

The airplane was examined at the site by an FAA inspector, a representative from Cessna Aircraft, and a representative from Teledyne Continental Motors. The right wing separated from the airframe. Both propeller blades were bent aft. The nose landing gear separated from the airframe and the empennage was wrinkled. The 1959 Cessna 182B was not equipped with shoulder harnesses.

The fuel selector was found in the "RIGHT TANK" position. According to salvage personnel, the right wing fuel tank contained approximately 2 gallons of fuel. According to the Pilot's Operating Handbook for the Cessna 182B, the "useable fuel for level flight only" is 3.5 gallons. Approximately 25 gallons of fuel were drained from the left wing fuel tank. No anomalies with the airframe or engine were observed during the examination that would have precluded normal operation at the time of the accident.

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