On September 10, 2011, about 1315 central daylight time, a Fairchild M-62A-3, N103JC, experienced a total loss of engine power during an airshow fly-by at Waukegan Regional Airport (UGN), Waukegan, Illinois. The pilot subsequently made an off airport landing on a field. The certificated airline transport pilot sustained minor injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and both wings. The airplane was registered to the American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum and operated by the Commemorative Air Force (CAF)under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an airshow flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the local flight that originated from UGN. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot stated that he and a second CAF pilot preflighted the airplane for the flight from Wauksha Country Airport (UES), Waukesha, Wisconsin, to UGN. During the preflight, the right fuel tank gauge indicated about 7/8 full and the left fuel tank gauge indicated about 1/4 full. The airplane was started and flown for approximately 30 minutes on the right fuel tank for the flight to UGN. After the flight was completed, the right tank fuel gauge indicated 3/4 full with the airplane shutdown. Prior to the next flight, which was for the fly-by portion of the airshow, the pilot performed a preflight inspection of the airplane, during which he noted that the right fuel tank gauge indicated was 3/4 full and the left fuel guage was 1/4 full. The right fuel tank was used for the second flight. The second CAF pilot was not aboard during the second flight.
While performing the fly-by on the second flight, the airplane experienced a total loss of engine power while on the downwind to base leg for runway 5 (6,000 feet by 150 feet) and about 500 feet above ground level. The pilot stated that he established a best glide speed and immediately performed a turn to the runway but later determined that he would be unable to attain the runway safely based upon his position, altitude, and distance due to air traffic on short final for the runway. The pilot then attempted an off airport landing to a field. During the touchdown on the field, the airplane experience a hard landing due to the "topography, terrain, and brush."
Examination of the airplane revealed that no usable fuel was present in the right fuel tank. The fuel screen from the gascolator at the firewall did not contain fuel. The fuel screen did not contain foreign material and was clean.
The engine driven fuel was rotated and noted to prime and draw fuel from a bucket.
The screen from the base of the carburetor was removed and no fuel drained. There was no material in the screen that would block fuel flow. The carburetor throttle plate operated to the set limits. The accelerator pump cavity did not have any fuel. Throttle and mixture control continuity was noted.
The total amount of fuel removed from the airplane was about 1 pint.
The pilot stated as a safety recommendation on how the accident could have been prevented the following:
"More effective group communication and vigilance and training related to cross checking of fueling procedures and tracking flight time between pilot operators within the group operating the aircraft. Improving communication or awareness looking for or being alerted to possible broken or inoperative equipment on the aircraft between pilots/operator of of the aircraft within the group."
According to Federal Aviation Administration publication, Time in Your Tanks, P-8740-03:
"Fuel gauges are subject to malfunctions and errors. Therefore, unless restricted by the gross weight or center of gravity limits, it is considered good judgment to "top off" the tanks at fuel stops. If the fuel load must be limited, you should endeavor to get an accurate measurement of fuel quantity by using a dipstick calibrated for the aircraft."