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N6061L accident description

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Crash location 41.161389°N, 74.814444°W
Nearest city Branchville, NJ
41.146485°N, 74.752387°W
3.4 miles away
Tail number N6061L
Accident date 05 Jul 2005
Aircraft type Grumman American AA-5
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On July 5, 2005, about 1300 eastern daylight time, a Grumman American AA-5, N6061L, was destroyed during a forced landing near Branchville, New Jersey. The certificated commercial pilot was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which departed Mountain Bay Airpark (PA49), Hawley, Pennsylvania destined for Lincoln Park Airport (N07), Lincoln Park, New Jersey, conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, while in cruise flight over the Appalachian Mountains, the pilot smelled what seemed like a combination of "electrical smoke and fuel." He responded by opening the canopy to vent the cabin, and at the same time, fire came out from under the instrument panel. He subsequently closed the canopy, and the fire appeared to diminish. He did not execute the 'In-Flight Electrical Fires' checklist, and chose to attempt a forced landing on top of Kittatinny Ridge in Stokes State Forest.

During the landing, the airplane struck several trees, and began to leak fuel as it penetrated the forest canopy. After the airplane came to rest, the pilot exited the airplane from the right rear passenger window.

An FAA inspector examined the 100-yard debris field, and found most major portions of the airplane located in that area. The majority of the airplane's fuselage had been destroyed by fire, with the exception of the outer wing panels, and the nose section forward of the firewall.

During a detailed examination of the airplane's firewall area, it was noted that fire damage in the engine compartment was only evident in the area of the airplane's battery and the electrical wiring harness that lead from the battery. The engine, engine accessories, and surrounding structure were undamaged by fire.

The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on January 18, 2005, and as part of the inspection, work was performed on wiring going to the cigar lighter, and the cables for the electric starter.

According to the Grumman American AA-5 'In-Flight Electrical Fire' checklist, the procedure for responding to an in-flight electrical fire was:

1) Master Switch: OFF

2) All electrical switches: OFF

3) Ignition switch: ON

4) Cabin air vents: OFF

5) Proceed to nearest suitable airport for landing

NTSB Probable Cause

An electrical fire of unknown origin. A factor in the accident was the pilot's failure to perform the In-Flight Electrical Fires checklist.

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