NYC03LA028
NYC03LA028

On December 4, 2002, about 1300 eastern standard time, an Ercoupe 415-CD, Canadian registry C-FXJK, was substantially damaged following a total loss of engine power during cruise flight, and a subsequent forced landing to a field in Dalton, Massachusetts. The foreign certificated pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that departed Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport (GFL), Glens Falls, New York; destined for Chester Airport (3B9), Chester, Connecticut. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the pilot reported that he had planned to fly from Canada to 3B9, to sell the airplane. The pilot initially stopped in Ogdensburg, New York, then proceeded to GFL. While at GFL, the pilot added 5 gallons of 100LL aviation gasoline to the airplane, and departed about 1200. About 1230, at 4,000 feet msl, the engine began to run rough. The pilot primed the engine while looking for a suitable landing strip. The engine eventually lost all power, and the pilot performed a forced landing to a field. During the landing, the airplane struck uneven terrain and skidded sideways. The airplane came to rest upright, but the left wing, nose gear, and fuselage were damaged.

Examination of the wreckage revealed frozen fluid, consistent with water, inside the gascolator.

During a subsequent telephone interview, the pilot stated that he previously topped off the airplane with "an old batch" of 80/87 aviation gasoline. The airplane then remained parked in a "leaky" hangar for approximately 1 month. Prior to his initial departure from Canada, the pilot sumped both wing tanks and the engine sump, but did not observe any water. However, the pilot added that the temperature was very cold, and he believed that water in the fuel tanks had frozen and risen to the surface. The pilot also sumped the tanks prior to departing GFL, and did not observe any water.

The reported temperature at an airport approximately 5 miles west of the accident site, at 1254, was 22 degrees F.

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