MIA05LA112
MIA05LA112

On May 28, 2005, about 1534 eastern daylight time, a Thomas Farmer Jr. Vans RV-4, experimental amateur-built airplane, N3074T, registered to and operated by a private individual, as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, crashed in an orange grove in Fort Pierce, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The private-rated pilot received serious injuries, and the aircraft incurred substantial damage. The flight originated in Fort Pierce, Florida, the same day, about1351.

According to an officer with the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, two witnesses who were both mowing their lawns at the time, said they saw the accident airplane approach and enter a bank to land at the Treasure Coast Airpark. As the airplane banked, the witnesses said they saw the propeller "windmill", and then they saw the airplane dive, followed by an abrupt "pull-up", at which time they said they saw the propeller windmilling again. After the "pull-up", the airplane disappeared from sight. Both witnesses said to the officer that they did not hear the sound of the engine, since they were both mowing their lawns at the time.

A third witness stated that at 1351, on the day of the accident, he observed the accident airplane being taxied for takeoff on runway 27 at Treasure Coast Airpark, Ft. Pierce, Florida. He further stated that while being taxied from the taxiway onto the runway, the engine ceased operating. After restarting the engine the airplane departed, and returned at 1530 with indications of a problem having occurred. He said that the engine was "cutting out" during the downwind leg of the approach to land. According to the witness, the airplane did a touch-and-go landing on runway 27, and seemed to be having trouble climbing out. As it climbed, it turned slightly to the right near the end of the runway and then entered a left 360-degree turn, crossing the runway in a northerly heading. He said the airplane was then observed in a climbing right turn, and it proceeded east, with the noise of the engine "cutting out", being clearly heard. The witness said he last saw the airplane enter a base turn over the orange grove east of the runway, and at 1534 it crashed into the orange grove while making an approach to runway 27.

An FAA Inspector and a representative from Textron Lycoming Engines conducted postcrash examinations of the airplane and its systems. According to the FAA inspector there was no evidence of usable fuel at the scene or in the airplanes' fuel tanks. Following the onscene examination a detailed examination of the airplane and its systems as well as a test run on the engine revealed no anomalies.

On May 22, 2007, the pilot stated that he was on final approach to land and the fuel was low in the left tank, and as he banked the airplane in his turn to final, the airplane's engine ceased operating. He said he was at a low altitude and he did not have time to switch fuel tanks and restart the engine, so he concentrated on trying to steer the airplane to avoid objects on the ground as the airplane descended. He said he made the mistake of unfastening the shoulder harness in an attempt to reach the fuel switch and he hit his head on the instrument panel when the airplane impacted. He said his injuries caused him to be hospitalized for a very long time and he regrets that he did not submit an Aircraft Accident/Incident Report to the NTSB.



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