ERA12LA349
ERA12LA349

On May 20, 2012, about 1458 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Bel Aire 2000, N122BA, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain during a forced landing following partial loss of engine power near Tyre, New York. The certificated commercial pilot incurred minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which originated from a private field in Clyde, New York, and was destined for Finger Lakes Regional Airport (0G7), Seneca Falls, New York. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the pilot, he purchased the airplane about 3 months prior to the accident flight, and the airplane had not been flown within the preceding year. The purpose of the flight was to relocate the airplane to his home in Florida, and the accident flight was to be the first leg of that trip.

On the morning of the flight, the pilot performed a preflight inspection of the airplane, which included draining the existing automotive fuel and replacing it with 35 gallons of fresh fuel. He then performed a ground run of the automotive engine and noted no anomalies. The pilot departed and circled above the departure field for several minutes in order to confirm that the engine would continue to perform normally before he departed the area. About 12 miles into the cruise portion of the flight, he noted that the engine began to "hesitate," and in response he began to "pump" the throttle, which seemed to keep the engine partially running. The pilot realized he would not be able to reach any nearby airports, and subsequently performed a forced landing to a farm field. The airplane incurred substantial damage to both lower wings during the landing.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate with a rating for airplane single engine. He reported 3,001 total hours of flight experience, with one hour of experience in the accident airplane make and model.

Review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness records revealed that the airplane was originally issued a special airworthiness certificate in the experimental amateur-built aircraft category on April 4, 1999. The required flight testing was completed on July 22, 2000, after the airplane had accumulated 68 total flight hours. The airplane was equipped with a General Motors V383-300 automotive engine and a 4-barrel automotive carburetor, which was rated to produce 330 horsepower. The airplaneā€™s most recent condition inspection was completed on May 5, 2011, and at that time, the airframe had accumulated 184 total flight hours. According to FAA inspectors, no flights had been undertaken between the last condition inspection and the accident flight.

Federal Aviation Administration inspectors examined the airplane at the accident scene, verified the quantity of fuel in the fuel tanks, and drained a sample of fuel from the lower fuel drain point. The sample of automotive fuel appeared to be contaminated with an undetermined particulate and was dark brown in color. Continuity of the fuel system was confirmed through the fuel filter and to the carburetor. Operation of the electric fuel pump was also confirmed.

After recovering the airplane from the accident site, the pilot conducted a detailed examination of the engine and carburetor and was unable to locate any anomalies with either component.

The weather conditions reported at Penn Yan Airport (PEO), Penn Yan, New York, at 1453, included clear skies, 10 statute miles visibility, calm winds, a temperature of 29 degrees Celsius (C), a dewpoint of 11 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.12 inches of mercury.

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