On January 29, 2000, at 1225 Eastern Standard Time, a Cessna 150, N7854E, was substantially damaged during a forced landing, just after takeoff from Wiscasset Airport (IWI), Wiscasset, Maine. The certificated commercial pilot was not injured, and visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time. No flight plan had been filed for the local flight, which was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the pilot, he performed a preflight inspection per the owners manual. The fuel quantity was half full. The wing tank drains were "frozen stuck," and the pilot decided not to force them open. The pilot drained about 6 ounces of fuel from the fuel strainer, and found "no visible contaminants." He also noted that "the fuel vent next to the pitot tube appeared to be open."
The pilot started the airplane, taxied it to the runway, and performed a run up. After that, he back-taxied down Runway 25, and made a right-crosswind takeoff. After takeoff, "climb was interrupted seconds into the flight by the engine dying. The altitude was about 125 [feet] agl. I briefly pumped the throttle with no effect on the wind milling engine."
The pilot further stated:
"I then saw the big white snowy area at the end of Runway 25...and maneuvered with a right turn away from the runway and then a left turn toward the...area. I was gliding the plane down.... With airspeed now getting low the plane would not quickly recover from the slip and touched left wingtip first with the nose wheel collapsing second. The plane was yawing now to the left, the right wingtip dug into the snow decelerating the plane rapidly and yawing it to the right."
The pilot reported that he then went to the hospital, and later that day, returned to the scene, and met with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector. At that time, the Inspector confirmed there was fuel onboard the airplane. In addition,
"He...tried the wing drain. It was still frozen shut. He then found gasoline in both wing tanks and at the fuel strainer. He gave me permission to move the plane and asked me to drain the gasoline through the fuel strainer to see if it would drain for more than 20 seconds. He also asked me to drain the carburetor to see if there was any water in it. I agreed to do it first thing the next day and report the results to him." The pilot then moved the airplane back to its tie down spot.
The pilot also noted that when he arrived back at the airplane on the day of the accident, there was fuel leaking out of the left wing fuel vent. "It is my belief that the sun warmed the blocked tube allowing the fuel to leak out of the tank."
The following morning, with a witness present, the pilot drained over 10 gallons of fuel into containers "with no hesitation or water." Another witness observed the pilot drain the carburetor float bowl of about 40 cc of fuel and 10 cc of water.
The pilot also provided the following:
"It is my belief that [the airplane] was exposed to three weeks of terrible weather, high winds, sleet, and blowing snow and very cold (sub zero) temperatures. Some of this precipitation found its way into the fuel tanks vents and blocked them."
One of the preflight procedures in the pilot's operating handbook was: "Check fuel tank vent opening for stoppage."