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N1131Z accident description

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Crash location 35.613333°N, 86.985000°W
Nearest city Columbia, TN
35.615072°N, 87.035283°W
2.8 miles away
Tail number N1131Z
Accident date 23 Mar 2018
Aircraft type Fairchild Funk M62C F 23A
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On March 23, 2018, about 1610 central daylight time, a Fairchild Funk M62C F-23A, N1131Z, operated by the Texas Air Museum, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Columbia, Tennessee. The private pilot was not injured and the airplane received substantial damage. The flight was operated in accordance with Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight that departed Smyrna Airport (MQY), Smyrna, Tennessee and was destined for Slaton Municipal Airport (F49), Slaton, Texas.

The pilot reported that before departing MQY, the airplane had a full fuel load of 44 gallons. He was anticipating making three or four stops along the 700-mile route. About 30 minutes after departing MQY, at an altitude of 2,500 ft mean sea level, he switched the fuel selector handle from the left tank to the right to "balance the load." About 1 minute after changing tanks, the engine began to "cough," then it shut down. The pilot attempted to restart the engine by switching the fuel selector back to the left tank, increased the mixture and turned on the fuel boost pump followed by the manual boost pump, but he was unable to restart the engine. His altitude was about 1,500 ft above ground level when he stopped trying to restart the engine. He found a long, grassy field and landed the airplane, but as the airplane touched down it sunk into the soft ground during the landing roll, which sheared off the landing gear as the airplane skidded to a stop.

During a postaccident interview the pilot stated that it was possible that he switched the selector to the incorrect position, but he could not be sure. He described that of the two of the airplanes he flies, the M62C, the accident airplane and the other airplane, an M62 are very similar; however, the accident airplane had a fuel selector handle and markings that were dissimilar to those of the other airplane he operated more frequently.

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the right main landing gear separated from the airplane and the wing spar was bent. The left fuel tank was ruptured and contained no fuel. The right fuel tank indicated three-quarters or about 16 gallons of fuel. Several pieces of wreckage led from the touchdown point to the final resting place of the airplane; a distance of about 75 feet. Additional examination of the fuel system revealed no anomalies or defects.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. His total flight time reported was 371 hours, of which, 18.9 hours were in the accident airplane make and model.

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1965; it was a single-engine, low-wing, tandem two-seat airplane that was issued a special airworthiness certificate for experimental exhibition on July 7, 2012. It incorporated tailwheel landing gear and was equipped with a Jacobs R-755B2M, 275 hp radial engine and a 22-gallon fuel tank in each wing. The engine had accumulated 3,026 hours total time and 175.2 hours total time since major overhaul as of its last condition inspection on July 22, 2017.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's inadvertent selection of the fuel selector handle to the off position, which resulted in fuel starvation and a total loss of engine power.

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