On April 8, 2001, at 0900 central daylight time, a Piper J3C-65, N6460D, operated by a commercial pilot, collided with the terrain during a forced landing on a road in Gary, Indiana. The forced landing followed a loss of engine power. The pilot was not injured and the airplane was substantially damaged. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The flight originated from Merrillville, Indiana, at 0850 central standard time, with an intended destination of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The pilot reported he performed an aircraft preflight and called flight service prior to departing Merrillville. He stated that he intended to fly along the Lake Michigan shoreline at 3,000 feet. The pilot reported that about 6 miles north of the Gary Airport, Gary, Indiana, while over Lake Michigan, the engine quit. He reported that he was in level flight when this occurred.

The pilot reported, "I restored engine power when I positioned the engine throttle close to idle position, then restored full power for a short time. (I cycle[d] through this situation all the way to the forced landing) I informed the tower, that I was trying to make the airport. Switched tanks valve, with no change in power pattern. In overall I just had an increased [sic] in the glide ratio caused by the low and high power setting. I informed the tower that I was going to land on the industrial complex north of the airport."

The pilot reported that he chose a road on which to land. He said that after approximately 150 feet of ground roll, the right main landing gear struck a "big" rock on the edge of the road. The landing gear separated from the airplane and the airplane slid to the right, traveling part way down an embankment. The carburetor was separated from the airplane during the impact. The right wing came to rest on the ground. The fuselage was buckled above the cockpit.

The airplane was examined by an inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration, South Bend , Indiana, Flight Standards District Office. The inspector reported that there was no evidence of fuel leakage at the accident site. The inspector drained 1 1/2 ounces of fuel from the fuel line between the header fuel tank and the fuel selector. He reported that the fuel gages indicated the right tank was empty and the left tank contained 1/3 tank of fuel. He reported, however, a visual inspection of both tanks revealed they were empty. The airplane had been modified with an extended range fuel system.

The airplane had not been flown since September, 2000. The pilot reported that three days prior to the accident, he noticed fuel leaking out of the carburetor. He reported that he was told by a mechanic and the airplane owner that the float needle was stuck and that he should tap the carburetor with a wrench. He reported he did this, then flew the airplane around the traffic pattern. The airplane then sat until the day of the accident. The pilot reported to the FAA inspector that he did not visually check the fuel level prior to takeoff on the accident flight.

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