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N5961P accident description

Missouri map... Missouri list
Crash location 37.596111°N, 93.348055°W
Nearest city Bolivar, MO
37.614484°N, 93.410475°W
3.6 miles away
Tail number N5961P
Accident date 10 Feb 2005
Aircraft type Piper PA-24-250
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On February 10, 2005, at 1940 central standard time, a Piper PA-24-250, N5961P, collided with trees and the terrain while on final approach to land on runway 36 at the Bolivar Municipal Airport (M17), Bolivar, Missouri, following a loss of engine power. The private pilot and two passengers were seriously injured. The airplane received substantial damaged. The 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal cross-country flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The flight originated from the Ottawa Executive Airport (Z98), Zeeland, Michigan, at 1640 eastern standard time (1540 central standard time). The planned destination for the flight was Lamar, Missouri.

The pilot reported the airplane was topped off with fuel prior to departing (Z98). A fuel log indicates the airplane did receive 25.5 gallons of fuel on the day of the accident. He reported that after takeoff, he climbed to an altitude of 8,500 feet at a power setting of 2,400 rpm and 22" of manifold pressure. The pilot stated he leaned the mixture by pulling it back until the engine ran rough, then he increased the mixture until it ran smooth again. The pilot stated he flew just inside the Lake Michigan shoreline to avoid Chicago airspace until he reached Gary, Indiana, at which time he headed direct to Lamar.

The pilot reported he became concerned about the amount of fuel on board when he noticed the "fuel gage drop" when the airplane was just north of Springfield, Missouri. He stated he changed his course to Bolivar, Missouri. He reported the fuel in one of his fuel tanks was exhausted when he was about half way to Bolivar and the other fuel tank was exhausted when he was in the traffic pattern to land at Bolivar. The pilot reported to a Federal Aviation Administration Inspector that he miscalculated the headwind and he turned final approach too far out from the runway. He stated the airplane got too low and the right wing contacted trees just before the airplane crashed on the golf course.

The Polk County, Missouri, 911 Dispatch Office reported they received a cell phone call from the pilot at 1947. The pilot stated they had crashed and he thought they were just north of the airport.

The airplane contacted trees and came to rest inverted on a fairway at the Silo Ridge Golf Course. The airplane was aligned with an extended centerline for runway 36 and approximately one-quarter mile south of the airport.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol the airplane contacted 2 trees which were approximately 35 feet tall. The airplane then impacted the ground and came to rest inverted approximately 150 feet away from the trees. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol there was no fuel spillage at the accident site and both wing tanks were found empty.

The airport manager at the El Dorado Springs Memorial Airport (87K), El Dorado Springs, Missouri, stated he received a radio call from the pilot of N5691P about 1800, stating he was about 30 miles east of 87K, he was concerned his low fuel level, and that he was trying to find an airport where he could purchase fuel. The manager stated that he informed the pilot that they did not sell fuel at 87K and that M17 sold fuel and that they might still be open. He stated he provided the pilot with the common air traffic advisory frequency and the airport identifier.

A mechanic who inspected the airplane after the accident reported no fuel leaked out of the airplane as it was being moved from the accident site. He reported he opened the belly quick drain and only a couple drops of fuel came out. He stated there was no fuel present in either wing tank. He stated he used a lighted mirror to inspect the inside of the wing tanks. He stated the left tank contained a bladder and all of the clips were in place. The right tank had been converted to a wet wing and the interior coating was in good condition. He stated the fuel tanks were not compromised by impact damage.

The winds reported at Springfield, Missouri, located 23 nautical miles south of the accident site at 1952 were calm.

NTSB Probable Cause

A loss of engine power due to the pilot's inaccurate preflight and inflight planning which resulted in an inadequate fuel supply for the flight, and the subsequent fuel exhaustion. A factor associated with the accident was the trees that the airplane contacted during the landing.

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