DEN03LA055
DEN03LA055

On March 23, 2003, approximately 1300 mountain standard time, a Mohr Starduster Too, N3696, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain during a forced landing at Espanola, New Mexico. The commercial pilot and a student pilot-passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the ferry flight being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated at Sterling, Colorado, approximately 1100.

The following is based on a telephone conversation with the pilot and the accident report he submitted. The pilot was ferrying the airplane to its new owner in Taos, New Mexico. He stopped in La Junta, Colorado, and refueled the airplane with approximately 18 gallons of fuel. This filled the tank to capacity. He also "stuck" (or dipsticked) the tank "to determine fuel capacity and figured it must be close to what we were told (30 gallons). Apparently, it doesn't hold quite that much." After departing La Junta, they lost sight of the airplane they had been following. He elected to continue the flight. The airplane was not equipped with a navigation or communication radio. During this leg of the flight, the navigation chart blew out of the open cockpit. The pilot said he thought he could remember where he was going, but misidentified a landmark and crossed the mountains south of where he thought he was. As he circled Espanola to reorient himself, the engine lost power "due to fuel exhaustion." The airplane had been aloft 2 hours, 20 minutes. The pilot made a forced landing on a golf course, which he described as "unsuitable terrain." During the landing, the airplane struck an earth berm that tore off the landing gear. The lower right wing tip on the biplane was crushed and the propeller was bent.

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