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N3561F accident description

Tennessee map... Tennessee list
Crash location 37.286944°N, 83.209444°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 Russellville, TN
36.258705°N, 83.195168°W
71.0 miles away
Tail number N3561F
Accident date 04 Jun 2011
Aircraft type Buckeye Dream Machine
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On June 4, 2011, at 1546 eastern daylight time, a Buckeye Dream Machine powered parachute, N3561F, collided with, and remained suspended in trees in the vicinity of Lake Cherokee, Russellville, Tennessee. The certificated sport pilot was fatally injured when the airframe fell from the trees. The powered parachute was registered to and operated by the pilot/owner under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which originated from Moore-Murrell Airport (MOR), Morristown, Tennessee, at 1449.

In telephone interviews with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspector, both the pilot's wife and son stated that they had witnesses various portions of the accident flight and that both had seen the powered parachute just before it entered the trees.

The pilot's wife stated that she had seen the powered parachute as it "flew around the lake" but she was unable to estimate its altitude. She added that the parachute appeared to "collapse" before it entered the trees.

The pilot's son stated that the parachute was flying for "a while," approximately 20 feet above the trees, when the parachute collapsed and disappeared from view. He stated he was too far away to discern whether or not the engine was running. The pilot's son then responded to the accident site with an acquaintance.

Police officers spoke to the pilot for about two to three minutes before the aircraft broke out of the tree tops and fell to the ground. During the brief conversation between the pilot, his son, and the officers, the purpose of the flight and the circumstances of the collision with trees were not discussed. According to his son, the pilot reported, “The darn thing just quit.”

Examination of the airframe by an FAA inspector revealed substantial damage to the airframe tubing. The inspector estimated that the on-board eight-gallon fuel tank contained five gallons of fuel. The oil reservoir tank displayed impact damage but still contained oil. The ignition switch was found in the “OFF” position. A cursory examination of the engine revealed that the carburetor was separated from its mounts, but was still attached by control cables. An empty blue plastic fuel can was located near the wreckage.

According to the son of the pilot/owner, the blue plastic fuel can was an auxiliary fuel modification installed by his father, and the can was mounted in the back seat. Closer examination by the FAA inspectors revealed an auxiliary fuel line mounted to the right of the pilot’s seat with a shut-off valve attached. The fuel valve was open, and the line extended to where the blue plastic fuel can was mounted in the back seat. There was no indicating system to alert the pilot of the fuel level in the blue can. The pilot’s son further stated that his father likely exhausted the fuel supply in the auxiliary fuel can, which starved the engine, and resulted in a total loss of engine power.

A review of FAA airman records revealed that the pilot held a sport pilot certificate. His most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued March 19, 2001, when he reported 3 total hours of flight experience. The pilot's logbook was not recovered, and his total flight experience could not be determined.

Weather reported at Tri-Cities Airport (CXY), 30 miles west of the accident site, and Whiskey Barrel Airport (WBA), 30 miles east, both included calm winds at the time of the accident.

On June 16, 2011, FAA inspectors and a representative of the engine manufacturer examined the engine in the airframe. The carburetor was reattached at its mount, and an engine start was initiated. The engine started immediately, accelerated smoothly, and ran continuously without interruption.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot’s failure to switch fuel tanks when the fuel was exhausted, which resulted in fuel starvation and a total loss of engine power.

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