On February 10, 2008, at approximately 1139 central standard time, a Piper PA-28-235, N9047W, was substantially damaged following a forced landing after initial takeoff. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant, was seriously injured. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot. The flight originated from David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport (DWH) at approximately 1135 and visual metrological conditions prevailed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations part 91 personal flight.

According to a witness, the airplane had departed the runway and initiated a climb to approximately 400 feet above ground level when the engine began "sputtering." The pilot began a turn to the runway when the engine quit. The pilot elected to perform a forced landing to a nearby field. During the forced landing, the main landing gear separated from the airplane and both wings sustained impact damage. The airplane was transported to a secure facility for further examination. A responding inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration documented the accident scene and noted that the fuel selector was in the "Right Tip" position. Both the main and tip fuel tanks were found breached.

In a telephone interview with the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC), the pilot reported performing a normal pre-flight inspection which included checking all fuel tanks for the presence of water. The fuel selector was drained for approximately 10 seconds and the fuel was not recovered, since it is difficult to both actuate the drain and collect the drained fuel. The pilot did not recall a significant amount of water being found in the tanks and did not collect the fuel drained from the fuel selector. The pilot reported no difficulties through take-off from runway 17R. The pilot stated that once airborne the engine quit without any indication of an impending loss of engine power. The pilot elected to turn the airplane for an open field. The pilot performs take-offs with the left tank selected and remembered attempting a restart by switching fuel tanks, but was unsuccessful.

The NTSB conducted an examination of the airframe and engine with the assistance of technical representatives from Piper Aircraft and Lycoming Engines. The fuel selector sump and screen were removed for examination. The fuel selector sump was removed and found to be full of fluid. The fluid in the sump contained both contaminated fuel and rust deposits. The contaminated fuel tested positive for the presence of water using a water detection paste. The screen also displayed an accumulation of rust. The carburetor was found partially separated from the engine and contained a small amount of light brown liquid. This liquid also tested positive for the presence of water using water detection paste. The carburetor bowl and floats exhibited light brown stains consistent with rust. In addition, the fuel selector detents were found to be in condition that made it difficult to discern the right main tank position and the selector could easily pass the detent and select the right tip fuel tank.

The airplane had been tied down on the ramp at DWH. The last annual inspection was completed on December 28, 2007. Water intrusion into the fuel system was not detected or reported during the annual inspection. The pilot reported that he had last fueled his airplane's main tanks on a previous flight near the beginning of January. A flight by this airplane was recorded on January 6, 2008. The pilot could not recall if the tip tanks were filled at that time. From January 7 to February 10, 2008, DWH reported an average of .11 inches of rain with 0.79 inches of rain falling on January 16, 2008.

The airplane is not required to have shoulder restraints installed. However, the lack of shoulder restraints contributed to the severity of the pilot's injuries.

At 1153 an automated weather reporting facility located at DWH reported winds from 100 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, skies clear, temperature 72 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 46 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure of 30.32 inches of Mercury.

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