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N34NL accident description

California map... California list
Crash location 36.000000°N, 119.000000°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city San Simeon, CA
35.643859°N, 121.190753°W
125.2 miles away
Tail number N34NL
Accident date 03 Feb 2002
Aircraft type Beech T-34B/D-45
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On February 3, 2002, at 1128 Pacific standard time, a Beech T34B/D-45, N34NL, lost engine power during cruise and made an emergency landing in an open field near San Simeon, California. The airplane, owned by the NAS Lemoore Navy Flying Club and rented to the pilot, was being operated under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The airplane sustained substantial damage after it collided with a fence. The private pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal local area flight, and a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan had been filed. The flight departed NAS Lemoore (NLC) at 1022, and was scheduled to terminate at NLC.

In the pilot's written statement to the National Transportation Safety Board, after arrival at the airport he conducted a preflight of the airplane about 0930. The preflight included a check of the fuel valve in the engine compartment. He noted that the safety wire was in place. He also checked the left and right fuel tanks and noted that both tanks were filled to the "caps." He noted no discrepancies with the airplane or fuel system during the preflight inspection.

After engine startup, the pilot contacted ground control and taxied to the active taxiway. He noted that the left magneto had a drop of 300 rpm. He conducted a 'burn-out' procedure and rechecked the magnetos. The rpm drop was within manufacturer's specifications. He then contacted the tower and received a takeoff clearance. The pilot stated that after he departed the class D airspace he went through the in-flight checks, and ensured that the oil pressure, fuel pressure, and power were within limits. He proceeded direct to Paso Robles airport and entered the pattern. He did one touch-and-go landing and then departed for the Morro Bay very high frequency omni-directional radio range (VOR). After reaching the Morro Bay VOR, he flew direct towards the Big Sur VOR. During the turn to the north for the Big Sur VOR he noted that the fuel gages "were a little erratic, but was not depending on them for a good 'read'."

The pilot stated that he continued the flight inland and was deciding on whether or not to fly back to Paso Robles when the airplane experienced a complete loss of engine power. He established the best glide speed and picked out Highway 1 as a place to land. He then attempted to restart the engine. The pilot setup on the downwind leg of the approach for the forced landing. While established on final for Highway 1, he was attempting to avoid traffic and decrease the airplane's airspeed for landing. He noted that he was not able to slow down enough to avoid oncoming traffic. He maneuvered the airplane to the right of the highway. The left gear contacted the asphalt and the airplane continued through a cattle fence. The nose landing gear collapsed, and the airplane came to rest on its nose.

U.S. Navy search and rescue personnel responded to the accident site, and noted that there was no fuel in the fuel tanks. They also indicated that they did not see or smell fuel on the ground or around the airplane.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector and the Navy inspected the airplane at the Navy's facilities in Lemoore on February 12, 2002. Visual examination of the airplane revealed no signs of fuel stains. The interior of the engine compartment was also free of visible fuel staining. The FAA inspector noted that the left and right fuel caps were in place with no indication of fuel staining.

Navy personnel conducted further inspection of the airplane. The Aviation Safety Officer (ASO) reinterviewed the pilot. The pilot stated that during his preflight he had difficulty obtaining a proper fuel sample from the low point drain (LPD). He stated that the fuel valve was not open and that he was only able to obtain a small amount of fuel. The ASO noted that without the valve in the open position the sample from the LPD would have been residual fuel from the previous flight. The pilot indicated that he was satisfied with the fuel sample and closed the LPD panel and completed his preflight.

The ASO stated that the LPD is located under the fuselage behind the pilot's seat. He said that the pilot locked the LPD in the up (open) position, which would result in the fuel draining from the LPD during flight. From the pilot's seated position, the fuel leakage would not be visible.

NTSB Probable Cause

the pilot's inadequate preflight of the airplane in which he failed to close the fuel drain resulting in a fuel leak and fuel exhaustion.

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