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On December 31, 1999, approximately 1230 mountain standard time, a PA-22-160, N9225D, was substantially damaged when it impacted the terrain during a forced landing near Brighton, Colorado. The private pilot, the sole occupant aboard the airplane, was seriously injured. The airplane was being operated by the owner/pilot under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country personal flight which was originating at the time of the accident. No flight plan was filed.
The pilot said that he performed a normal preflight, but did not visually look into the fuel tanks. He did say that he turned the master switch on, and the fuel gauges indicated approximately one half full. The pilot said that he put the fuel selector on the left tank, and started the engine. He departed southbound with one notch of flaps. The pilot said that he performed a soft field takeoff, and "I raised the nose wheel quickly to keep the prop out of the dirt."
The pilot reported in his written statement that approximately halfway down the 1780 foot dirt/grass runway, the airplane lifted off the ground. He raised the flaps to zero, and at 300 to 400 feet above ground level (agl) he made a standard left turn to the east. A witness said that when the airplane became airborne, it "started gaining altitude fast." The pilot said to the NTSB Investigator-In-Charge that he "performed a steeper then normal climb-out, and then turned left continuing the steep climb."
The pilot said in his written statement that "the engine backfired 2 or 3 times, and stopped turning." The pilot said that the propeller stopped completely. He said that he set up a glide of 80 mph, selected a field to land in, and attempted an engine restart. He impacted the south side of a large irrigation ditch.
FAA records indicate that the pilot completed his private pilot check ride on July 29, 1979. The pilot said that he had approximately 818 hours of flight experience at the time of the accident.
The pilot registered the airplane May 2, 1980.
The airplane was a single engine, propeller-driven, four seat airplane, which was manufactured by Piper Aircraft, Inc., in 1958. It was powered by a Lycoming O-320-B2A, four cylinder, reciprocating, horizontally opposed, direct drive, air cooled, normally aspirated (carbureted) engine, which had a maximum takeoff rating of 160 horsepower at sea level. At the time of the accident, the engine had 1,843 hours since overhaul. The pilot said that the airplane received an annual inspection on December 18, 1999. The airplane had flown approximately 1.5 hours since this inspection.
There was an 18 gallon fuel tank located at each wing root. Each fuel tank had two lines, forward and aft, adjacent to the fuselage which can feed the fuel system. A pilot/mechanic said that if a steep climbing departure turn is performed by a pilot, and the airplane is only partially fueled, unporting of the fuel lines in the wing tanks is possible. Subsequent fuel starvation to the engine would be imminent.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Prior to examination by an NTSB investigator, the airplane had been moved from the impact point (the south side of a large irrigation ditch on the pilot's farm) to the pilot's hangar. The pilot said that the airplane lay inverted for six days before its retrieval. The forward fuselage was found crushed upward and aft. The central fuselage and empennage were badly deformed and wrinkled. The entire span of the left wing leading edge was crushed aft.
All of the airplane's major components were accounted for, and all flight control continuity was confirmed. The engine's crankshaft was rotated, and good thumb compression was noted on all cylinders. During crankshaft rotation, continuity was observed through the engine, the aft accessory section, and the complete valve train. The propeller had separated from the engine, and both blades exhibited 45 degree chordwise striations. One blade exhibited minimal "S" type twisting. The spinner was found compress aft.
No preimpact engine or airframe anomalies, which might have affected the airplane's performance, were identified.
TEST AND RESEARCH
The FAA Flight Training Handbook (Advisory Circular 61-21A), and the Student Pilot's Flight Manual by Kershner say to visually look into the fuel tanks to check your fuel levels during preflight: "don't rely on cockpit fuel gauges."
Several test pilots, flight instructors, and pilots, were asked if they had ever completely stopped a metal propeller in flight, and if so, how did they do it? They all said that a metal propeller will stop, with the magnetos off, when they stalled the airplane, or approximately 2 to 4 knots above a stall.
The airplane, including all components and logbooks, was never taken into NTSB's custody.