On September 23, 2000, about 1906 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-22-135, N3483A, owned by a private individual, lost engine power and impacted with a tree during a forced landing near Enochville, North Carolina. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time. No flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The airplane was substantially damaged. The private-rated pilot reported serious injuries. The flight had departed from a private airstrip at an unknown time.

Witnesses watched the airplane departing the airstrip, and when it did not return, they suspected that something had gone wrong. The airplane was found, and the pilot told his wife that there was an "engine failure."

The pilot stated, "...about 1 or 2 miles from [the] airport I had an engine failure. Tried to land in a field but caught top of [a] tree and then hit the ground."

When the FAA examined the wreckage, they found that there was fuel in the tanks. The fuel cap for the right fuel tank was not on the tank and was missing. According to the FAA inspector's statement, "...external inspection indicated the engine had no fuel or oil leaks and appeared to be well maintained. Several ignition plugs were removed for examination. The condition and color of the plugs insulation and electrode indicated no fouling. Indications appeared the engine was a little on the lean side...the aircraft was operating on automotive gasoline."

It was not determined how long the airplane sat with the fuel in the tanks. However, the pilot indicated on the NTSB form 6120.1/2, that he flew a total of 5 hours in the accident airplane in the past 90 days, 3 hours in the past 30 days, and none the 24 hours before the accident.

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