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On November 21, 2010, about 1744 Pacific standard time, a Beech 19A, N6064N, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Newport Beach, California, following a total loss of engine power on approach to the John Wayne-Orange County Airport (SNA), Santa Ana, California. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Dark nighttime visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The cross-country flight originated from the Calexico International Airport (CXL), Calexico, California, about 1447 with an intended destination of Torrance, California.
Members of the pilot's family reported to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator that, a few days before the accident, the pilot had flown to Mexico from Zamperini Field Airport (TOA), his home base airport in Torrance, California. Two passengers accompanied the pilot on the pleasure flight. The accident occurred during the pilot's return flight home with his friends.
According to the pilot's wife, on November 21, about 1047, the pilot telephoned, and stated that after obtaining fuel he would be departing San Felipe International Airport, Baja California, Mexico. She expected her husband to fly back to Torrance and arrive during the late afternoon or early evening. En route to Torrance, the pilot was expected to fly to CXL, an uncontrolled international airport of entry into the United States.
A private pilot at San Felipe International Airport reported to the NTSB investigator that about 1045 he observed the accident pilot waiting in line to purchase fuel. The private pilot stated that he was unaware of the quantity of fuel purchased by the accident pilot.
While en route to CXL, the pilot transmitted to a United States-based automated flight service station (PRC AFSS) that his estimated arrival time at CXL was 1400. The pilot reported that after departing CXL he planned to fly to Torrance. His anticipated en route cruise altitude would be 6,500 feet mean sea level and, weather permitting, would fly from CXL to Torrance via the Julian navigation aid.
Review of recorded communication from the SNA Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) revealed that the pilot contacted the controller about 8 minutes prior to the accident, reporting his position about 5 miles southwest of SNA. The controller assigned a transponder code to the pilot and subsequently asked the pilot to verify his location. The pilot responded that he was about 5 miles southwest of the airport. The controller informed the pilot that there was an airplane 10 miles southeast of SNA, approximately 1,500 feet mean sea level (msl), along the coast, northwest bound. The pilot acknowledged the controller that he was at 1,500 msl along the coast. The controller verified radar contact 8 miles south southeast of SNA. At the time, the pilot was cruising between 1,500 and 1,700 feet mean sea level. About 1 minute, 10 seconds later, the controller instructed the pilot to make left traffic for runway 19L, and received an acknowledgement from the pilot.
About 2 minutes later, the pilot asked the controller where he was located (relative to SNA). The controller responded that the pilot was 5 miles south-southeast of the airport. Seconds later, the pilot twice informed the controller that "we have just run out of fuel." While the airplane was descending in a northwesterly direction (toward SNA), the pilot informed the controller that he would try to reach the airport and see how close he could get. About 1 minute, 23 seconds later, the controller advised the pilot that he was about 3 miles south southeast of the airport, and the pilot acknowledged.
A witness located about three quarters of a mile southeast of the accident site, reported observing the accident airplane flying in a northwesterly direction. The witness indicated that the airplane was at most three telephone poles' height above the ground as it flew past his location. He said that he heard the airplane's engine "sputter," but it never revved up. The witness lost sight of the airplane as it descended.
The pilot, age 58, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. A third-class airman medical certificate was issued on November 6, 2009, with no limitations stated. The pilot reported on his most recent medical certificate application; that he had accumulated 400 total flight hours. Review of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had logged 79.4 hours since a logbook entry dated November 10, 2009, and 10.9 hours of flight time in the 60 days preceding the accident.
The four-seat, low-wing, fixed-gear airplane, serial number (S/N) MB-388, was manufactured in 1968. It was powered by a Lycoming O-320-E2C engine, serial number L-23168-27A, rated at 150 horse power. The airplane was also equipped with a Sensenich fixed pitch propeller.
According to the Beechcraft Musketeer Sport III "Owner's Manual" recovered from the accident airplane, the airplane was equipped with two 30 gallon fuel tanks, for a total of 60 gallons, of which 58.8 gallons of fuel are usable.
A fuel lineman at CXL reported that he spoke with the accident pilot on the afternoon of November 21, sometime after 1405 when the airplane landed. Pursuant to the pilot's request, the lineman pumped 20.0 gallons of fuel into the airplane's right wing fuel tank. He was not instructed to top off the tank. The lineman opined that adding exactly 20.0 gallons of fuel to the right wing tank did not result in it being completely filled to the brim of the filler neck. The lineman stated that he was not instructed to add any fuel to the left wing tank, and he did not know the quantity of fuel in that tank.
Review of the airplane maintenance logbooks revealed that the most recent annual inspection was completed on June 15, 2010, at a tachometer hour reading of 3,624.3 hours, airframe total time of 3,624.3 hours, and engine time since major overhaul of 601.1 hours.
A review of recorded data from the John Wayne-Orange County Airport automated weather observation station, located 2.7 miles north, northeast of the accident site, revealed at 1753 conditions were wind from 250 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, scattered cloud layer at 3,900 feet, temperature 17 degrees Celsius, dew point 5 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 30.07 inches of Mercury.
According to data from the United States Naval Observatory, official sunset occurred at 1646, with the end of civil twilight at 1713.
Review of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tide tables for Balboa Pier, Newport Beach, revealed that low tide was at 1508, and high tide was at 2136.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The accident site was located about 2.7 miles south, southwest of SNA in the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve (estuary). The airplane came to rest inverted in approximate 3-foot deep water. First responders reported that at the time of the accident, a low tide condition existed, and they were able to walk up to the partially submerged airplane. Hours later the tide rose, and the fuselage was mostly under water.
The airplane was recovered from the accident site and examined. Control cable continuity and functionality were confirmed between the engine's throttle, mixture and carburetor controls and the engine. The propeller blades did not exhibit leading edge nicks, chordwise abrasions or torsional deformation. The engine's crankshaft rotated, and its internal gear and component continuity were confirmed. The gascolator's fuel screen was removed and found mostly devoid of contaminants, and the fuel tank selector rotated freely. No fuel was found in the main fuel line to the carburetor or in the wing tanks, which contained an unmeasured amount of water. Several ounces of fuel were found in the carburetor bowl and in the accelerator pump assembly. Mechanical continuity was established throughout the engine and valve train and thumb compression was obtained on all four cylinders when the crankshaft was rotated by hand utilizing the propeller.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Orange County Coroner conducted an autopsy on the pilot on November 23, 2010. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was "drowning."
The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot. According to CAMI's report, carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and drugs were tested, and had negative results.