CHI02LA139
CHI02LA139

On May 20, 2002, at 1850 eastern daylight time, a Wattier Tornado, N5143C, piloted by a private pilot, sustained substantial damage on impact with trees following a total loss of engine power during climbout from runway 09 (2,517 feet by 120 feet, turf) at the Grant Airport (01C), Grant, Michigan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was not operating on a flight plan. The pilot reported no injuries. The flight originated from the Wilderness Airpark Airport (24M), Kent City, Michigan, at 1830, en route to 01C.

The airplane had not flown for approximately 2 years prior to accident flight. It was the pilot's first flight in the airplane. A mechanic, who completed a condition inspection of the airplane prior to the flight, told the pilot that the fuel lines "seemed to be getting hard" and needed to be replaced "right-away." The pilot told him that he was going to replace the fuel lines when he arrived at 01C. The airplane did not have an airworthiness certificate on board, and the pilot did not obtain a ferry permit to 01C.

The pilot reported that he departed 24M after a "...condition inspection [and] multiple high speed taxis (tried to insure engine operations and sufficient runway length for takeoff)." The airplane climbed to 2,500 feet and flew eight miles north to 01C. The pilot added, "my plan was to fly 3 low approaches at Grant before actually trying to touch down. (To gain familiarity with plane, airport and current conditions). Engine stopped after 2nd low approach. (during climb back to pattern altitude.) Tried to glide past trees. Stalled the plane." Upon failure of the engine, the pilot attempted a turn back to the runway. The airplane's parachute recovery system was then deployed, and the airplane descended into trees under a parachute, which resulted in structural damage to both wings.

The Federal Aviation Administration inspector's examination of the fuel system revealed a crack in the fuel line leading from the fuel tanks to the fuel sump.

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