On February 1, 2008, at 1116 Pacific standard time, a single engine experimental Smith Zodiac 601XL, N601KS, experienced a loss of engine power on takeoff and came to rest nose down in an open field following an emergency landing adjacent to French Valley Airport (F70), Murrieta/Temecula, California. The pilot/owner operated the personal local area flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The pilot, the sole occupant was not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight and no flight plan had been filed. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
During a telephone interview and subsequent written statement, the pilot reported that he was going to fly locally in the area. He had flown the airplane about a month prior to the accident and encountered no problems. On the accident flight, the preflight was normal, and the run-up was "good." He reported that on the takeoff roll all of the gages were in the "green." He rotated the airplane at 65 miles per hour (mph), and established a normal climb rate to about 200 feet above ground level (agl), when the engine lost power and quit. The pilot stated that he activated the auxiliary fuel pump, and tried unsuccessfully to restart the engine.
The pilot stated that he banked the airplane to the left about 30 degrees and selected a landing site, while maintaining 75 mph. He noted that the terrain was undulating at his chosen landing site and he aimed for relatively flat terrain. About 2 feet above the ground he flared for landing; however, the airplane was still in a left bank about 10 degrees and the left main landing gear touched down on slightly upsloping soft terrain. About 50 feet from the initial touchdown, the nose landing gear touched down and dug into the soft dirt; it separated at the strut. The airplane spun around 180 degrees from its original direction of travel, the wing tips touched down and the airplane stopped and came to rest in a nose low attitude. The forward cockpit, engine, and cowl were damaged. The pilot also stated that there had been no recent maintenance on the airplane.
In a follow-up interview with the pilot, he reported that the fuel pressure gage went to zero and he received a low fuel pressure warning just prior to the engine failure. The pilot stated that he believed the electrical system was overpowered with the operation of strobes, transponder, radios, and other systems; he stated that he was "running it all." When he checked the carburetor he noted that there was no fuel in the carburetor bowl. The pilot stated that the fuel pump quit as a result of an electrical drain. In turn there was no fuel being supplied to the carburetor and thus the rest of the fuel system was starved of fuel allowing the engine to quit. He functionally checked the fuel pump and indicated that it operated normally. The pilot further reported that there was fuel onboard the airplane.
According to a responding deputy from Riverside County Sheriff's Department, the airplane came to rest about 1/4 mile southeast of the airport. The right wing was "smashed" and had multiple dents, the landing gear had separated from the airplane, and the front end of the airplane had sustained damage.