LAX05LA057
LAX05LA057

On December 31, 2004, about 1330 Pacific standard time, an experimental Orr Long-EZ, N321EZ, collided with obstacles during a forced landing on a road at Yucca Valley, California. The airplane was being operated by the pilot/owner/builder under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. Neither the airline transport pilot nor passenger were injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The personal flight originated at Punta Pescadero, Baja, California, about 0930, and was destined for Chino, California.

The pilot entered the Banning, California, pass area at 3,500 feet mean sea level, westbound. Due to lowering ceilings, turbulence, and rain, the pilot performed an180-degree reverse course to the high desert, and another possible route into the Los Angeles basin and Chino.

Soon after the course reversal, the pilot noted an engine sound decrease and loss of about 2,550 to 2,480 engine rpm. As he reached the edge of the high desert, the engine shutdown abruptly. He turned toward the Yucca Valley airport, and observed a popped circuit breaker on the electronic ignition system. He reset the breaker and the engine went to full power for about 5 or 10 seconds, and then the breaker popped again. He turned off the electronic ignition system to check the redundancy of the left magneto, which was also inoperative. He checked for carburetor ice several times, and switched fuel tanks.

The pilot was unable to safely reach the airport runway without risking a short landing in drainage gullies. He chose a road to land on, but noticed a car backing out of a driveway. As he shortened his approach he contacted an Edison power line causing a premature and hard landing. The airplane slid into a Yucca tree.

The pilot reported that during the course reversal in the Banning Pass he observed rainwater entering the cockpit and instrument panel area around the magneto switches and electronic ignition circuit breaker. He felt that the source of the ignition failure was due to the shorting of the magneto switch from the rainwater.

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