CEN09LA171
CEN09LA171

On February 22, 2009, approximately 1300 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-28C-235, N9487W, piloted by a private pilot, was substantially damaged when it struck a barbed wire fence following a loss of engine power during a landing approach at Meadow Lake Airport (00V), Falcon, Colorado. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 without a flight plan. The pilot and a passenger on board the airplane were not injured. The local flight originated at 00V approximately 1130.

The pilot said he preflighted the airplane and noted the following fuel gauge indications:

Left tip tank, 6 gallons (17 gallon capacity)
Left main tank, 12 to 15 gallons (25 gallon capacity)
Right main tank, 5 to 10 gallons (25 gallon capacity)
Right tip tank, empty (17 gallon capacity)

The pilot and a friend took off and flew to Fremont County Airport (1V6) in Canon City, and return to Meadow Lake after about a 1.5 hour flight. While at 500 feet and on short final approach to runway 15 in the landing configuration (carburetor heat, fuel pump on; flaps 20 degrees), the engine lost power. The airplane touched down in a field 200 to 300 feet short of the runway and struck a barbed wire fence. The airplane sustained leading edge damage to both wings and damage to the left main tank.

A witness standing next to fixed base operator Classic Air, just east of the A2 intersection, observed the airplane on final approach to runway 15. He watched as the pilot made a go-around. He said that as the airplane passed his position, the engine "didn't sound like it was running perfect. There was a slight roughness to the exhaust sound." The airplane continued around in the traffic pattern. The witness again saw the airplane on final approach, but "he was much lower than expected. His rate of descent also was higher than normal. He continued down until he contacted the ground far short of the runway. I observed a large puff of dust. The airplane continued forward at a high rate of speed. The plane jumped a few times and swerved left and right. As the aircraft came closer to the threshold of the runway it swerved left and crossed into taxiway alpha. As soon as he got on the taxiway he regained all control. At this point I could see his engine was out and I observed two large holes in the leading edge of the wings with fuel pouring out. He rolled right past me and stopped about 300 feet beyond me. I called him on my handheld to let him know about the fuel leak. He exited the plane with his friend. We went to see if they were ok and if they needed any help. The pilot stated when he turned final the engine just quit."

On March 3, 2009, an FAA inspector examined the airplane and reported finding the fuel selector positioned on the left main fuel tank. He found fuel in the fuel selector drain and in the left main fuel tank drain. There was a negligible amount of fuel in the right main tank fuel drain. The left wing tip tank contained approximately 3 to 5 gallons, and the right wing tip tank contained approximately 2 to 4 gallons.

With the fuel selector positioned on the left main tank, the engine was started and allowed to run for approximately 5 minutes. The fuel selector was then positioned on the left wing tip tank and the engine was allowed to run for another 5 minutes. The fuel selector was then positioned on the right wing tip tank, and the engine continued to run. The fuel selector was positioned on the right main tank and approximately one to two minutes later the engine stopped running.

The pilot did not submit an accident report. According to a Piper Aircraft Company spokesman, the airplane's engine, operating at 7000 feet msl (mean sea level) and 75 percent power, will consume about 14 gallons per hour.

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