On May 19, 2002, at 1750 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-236, N8442A, piloted by a private pilot, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near Angola, Indiana. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The air medical flight (Angel Flight) was operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. The pilot reported no injuries and his two passengers reported minor injuries. The flight departed the Wayne County Airport (BJJ), Wooster, Ohio, at 1702 eastern daylight time.

According to the pilot's written statement, prior to departure the airplane was fueled with 26.3 gallons, which completely filled both wing fuel tanks. The pilot reported he departed on an IFR clearance and upon reaching 8,000 feet above mean sea level (msl), he leveled off and set the engine power to 2,200 rpm and 20.5 inches of manifold pressure. The pilot noted he engaged the autopilot for navigation and altitude hold modes.

The pilot stated that while in cruise flight he noticed "a slight shaking in the yoke as well as a loss of power." The pilot reported, "I disengaged the autopilot and the [airplane] nose made a sudden drop. I recovered to level flight and then immediately turned on the [electrical] fuel pump and switched to the right fuel tank. Noticing that the [engine tachometer] was around 1,500 rpm, I trimmed the aircraft for an airspeed of 85 knots (best glide). I then engaged [carburetor] heat, increased the mixture and moved the throttle. The throttle had been virtually all the way forward, but I moved it back and then forward again to determine if it would change the rpm which it did not." The pilot stated, "When I [noticed] no improvement with the [carburetor] heat on, I shut it off in hopes of obtaining any increase at all in [engine] rpm. The engine seemed to be running at a low idle."

The pilot stated he informed Kalamazoo approach control of the loss of engine power and was given radar vectors to the Tri-State Stueben County Airport (ANQ). The pilot reported the airplane descended into visual meteorological conditions (VMC) at approximately 6,500 feet msl and approach control cleared him for a visual approach to runway 28 at ANQ.

The pilot reported, "I was on a long final for [runway] 28 at ANQ when I noticed that the runway was starting to move up in my windshield indicating that I was falling short of the runway on my current glide path. From my position, I could only see trees between the runway and my current position. I spotted an open field to my right and elected to make a controlled landing there rather than risk ending up in the trees." The pilot continued, "The aircraft touched down in a level attitude in as much of a flair as possible. The landing gear touched first, but the soft sandy soil caused the wheels to sink and the [landing] gear were torn off. The aircraft slid in a straight line for a short distance on its belly and then came to rest."

Federal Aviation Administration inspectors conducted the on-scene portion of the investigation. The fuel quantity of both wing tanks was considerably more than unusable fuel. A cursory inspection of the engine failed to reveal any anomalies. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge requested the electrical fuel pump, engine driven fuel pump, carburetor, and dual-magneto be removed from the engine and sent to the NTSB for additional examination and testing.

The electric fuel pump was identified as Facet part number (P/N) 480 543. The end-cap was removed to inspect the screen, which was free of debris. Electrical power was applied and the pump delivered a steady, strong fluid stream. No anomalies were found with the electric fuel pump.

The engine driven fuel pump was identified as an AC brand diaphragm pump, P/N 15472 9408. The pump was secured to a bench and when the actuating arm was cycled the pump functioned as designed. No anomalies were found with the engine driven fuel pump.

The carburetor was identified as a Precision MA-4-5, serial number (S/N) 75035522. The carburetor appeared to be undamaged. The float bowl was disassembled and the metal floats were in a serviceable condition. The float level was measured to be 13/64". The gasket material, located between the upper and lower portions of the carburetor, was flexible and provided a continuous seal. The gasket material was torn during the disassembly of the float bowl. The accelerator pump seal was in a serviceable condition. The actuating arm hinge pin was installed correctly and was safetied. The inlet screen was removed, and it contained a few pieces of small debris.

The dual-magneto was identified as Teledyne Continental model D6L-3000, S/N H259817GR. The magneto was mounted on a test-bench and an electric motor turned the magneto input drive shaft. When the drive shaft was rotated the magneto produced spark on all leads and no anomalies were noted with the operation of the impulse coupling. The magneto was heated to a surface temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit over a period of 25 minutes, which yielded no change in the operation of the magneto. No anomalies were found with the dual-magneto.

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