On January 13, 2002, at 1115 central standard time, a Beech V35B, N4217S, piloted by a private pilot, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing near the Coles County Memorial Airport (MTO), Mattoon, Illinois. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight was operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 without a flight plan. The pilot and his single passenger reported no injuries. The flight departed at 1100 and had the intended destination of Rantoul, Illinois.

According to the pilot's written statement, he had departed MTO, climbed to 3,000 feet above mean sea level, throttled back to 23 inches of manifold pressure and 2,300 rpm, and set the fuel flow rate to 14 gallons per hour. The pilot reported that approximately 4 - 5 miles northeast of MTO the engine rpm began to fluctuate between 1,800 and 1,900 rpm. The pilot stated he decided to turn back to MTO and entered the traffic pattern for runway 24. The pilot reported he lowered the landing gear while on downwind leg. The pilot stated that after he turned onto the base leg the engine began to lose power. The pilot reported he turned on the electric fuel pump and "worked throttle" with no change in engine performance. The pilot stated he turned onto the final approach for runway 24 and "Engine occasional sputter but seemed quieter. [Manifold] pressure, rpm just dropping, airspeed and altitude dropping quickly." The airplane landed approximately 1/4 mile short of runway 24.

An inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration performed the post-accident examination of the airplane. The engine was subjected to an operational test while still attached to the airframe and original fuel system. The engine started without hesitation and ran at varying power ranges without any anomalies.

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