On August 3, 2002, at 1730 central daylight time, a Southworth EAA Bi-Plane May Bee, N11S, single-engine amateur-built airplane, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain during an uncontrolled descent near West, Texas. The airplane was registered to a private individual and operated by the pilot. The commercial pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The cross-country flight originated from an abandoned airstrip, Hillsboro, Texas, approximately 1710, and was destined for the Waco Regional Airport, Waco, Texas. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the pilot, he purchased the single-place airplane in Justin, Texas, on the day of the accident. Prior to departing the Clark Airport in Justin, the pilot was briefed by the previous owner on the airplane's handling/performance characteristics, noting that the airplane burned 8-10 gallons of fuel per hour. The main fuel tank (16 gallons) was topped off and the pilot elected to not fill the auxiliary fuel tank (8 gallons), in order to remain within the airplane's weight and balance limitations. The pilot spent approximately 5-10 minutes taxiing the airplane and performing the pre-takeoff engine run-up. The airplane departed from Justin, for the 64 nautical mile flight to Hillsboro, at 1620 and arrived at 1710. The pilot intended on landing at the Hillsboro Municipal Airport (5T5); however, upon landing, the pilot realized that he had landed at an abandoned airstrip used by agricultural operators, which is located 2 miles southwest of 5T5. There was no fuel service available at the airstrip, and the pilot noted that the airplane's fuel gauge indicated 8 gallons. The pilot stated that "this seemed consistent with the fuel burn rate I had expected," and he decided to continue on to the Waco Regional Airport (27 miles south of Hillsboro) to re-fuel, rather than going back north to 5T5. The pilot estimated that he was on the ground approximately 5-10 minutes in Hillsboro, prior to departing for Waco.
The flight departed and 15 minutes later, with the airplane in cruise flight at 2,500 feet, the engine began sputtering and then lost power. The fuel gauge indicated that 1/2 tank of fuel remained at the time the engine lost power. The pilot noted a high sink rate and lowered the nose, while simultaneously banking to the right to avoid obstructions. Subsequently, the airplane entered a spin to the right before impacting a grass field.
An FAA inspector, who examined the airplane, reported that the wooden right wing's top and bottom spars were damaged, and the left wing sustained structural damage. Additionally, the engine firewall was displaced aft toward the cockpit. The fuel system was compromised during the accident. The fuel system contained only residual fuel and there was no evidence of fuel at the accident site.