Low altitude loss of power kills one

Aircraft: Folke-Wolf-190 ½ Scale. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Columbus, Ga. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot, 71, had logged about 13,000 hours. He was flying the pattern at a tower controlled airport. After conducting a touch-and-go landing on Runway 24, he advised the controller that he had a partial loss of engine power and intended to land on Runway 13.

According to the tower personnel, at the time of the transition there were more than 1,638 feet of runway ahead of the airplane on Runway 24.

According to witnesses, when the airplane was near the approach end of Runway 13, it banked left, stalled, pitched nose down, and hit the ground within 157 feet of the runway threshold.

A witness reported that the engine sounded as if it was running rough but not sputtering. Another witness, an airframe and powerplant mechanic, stated that the engine sounded as if it were operating between 1,200 and 1,300 rpm.

The builder/previous owner of the airplane reported that when the airplane was sold to the pilot, it was not equipped with a fuel quantity gauge. The previous owner initially reported that he did not give a fuel dipstick he made to the accident pilot when he sold him the airplane, however, he later stated that he did give the accident pilot the fuel dipstick.

The previous owner also reported that when he built the airplane, a fuel sending unit was installed in the fuel tank, however, it never worked so he disabled it. When asked how he disabled it, he reported he could not recall.

He was asked about stall speeds and reported the power-off stall speed with the landing gear down was 72 to 73 mph  and the typical approach speeds in the traffic pattern on the base leg was 100 mph, and over the runway threshold 85 to 90 mph.

He was also asked if he had ever performed spins in the airplane and he reported he had performed two.

He indicated that during coordinated flight, the airplane stalled straight forward with “good size buffet before the wing stalled,” and spins became “very tight very quick.”

At the time of the sale, he estimated the airplane total time was between 140 and 150 hours. The maintenance records were reportedly given to the new owner at the time of the sale, but were not located during the post-accident investigation.

The post-accident testing of the spark plugs revealed that five exhibited weak spark, which would have been detected during an engine run-up before takeoff.

About the time of the accident, the temperature and dew point were favorable for serious icing at glide power. Investigators determined the engine sounds described by the witnesses were consistent with carburetor icing, as is the pilot’s report of a partial loss of power after operating at a reduced power setting in the traffic pattern and then advancing the power after the touch-and-go landing. It could not be determined why the pilot did not chose to land the airplane on the remaining runway ahead.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed while maneuvering following a partial loss of engine power. Contributing to the accident was the decision not to land on the remaining runway ahead, and the partial loss of engine power due to carburetor ice.

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA513

This August 2012 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.


  1. Greg W says

    Indeed the inop. fuel gauge is a clear violation of FAR 23.1337(b) “Fuel quantity indication. There must be a means to indicate to the flightcrew members the quantity of usable fuel in each tank during flight. An indicator calibrated in appropriate units and clearly marked to indicate those units must be used.”
    Based on this report the aircraft was not airworthy at the time of the accident. We were not there so don’t know what the pilot was thinking, but, 1600+ feet remaining set it down straight ahead. Perhaps the high landing speed was a concern, the height of 2-300 ft. or perhaps deadly obstacles off the end of the runway were the reasons. If the pilot operated with plenty of room normally the remaining may have appeared way too short, even if it would have worked. When stressed we revert to what is “normal” that is what practice does it makes the emergency procedure normal.

  2. Arnold Holmes says

    Was the aircraft originally certificated with no/inoperable fuel quantity gauge? A fuel quantity gauge of some sort is required for certification. FAR 91.205 VFR minimum equipment: airspeed, altimeter, compass, tachometer, fuel gauge, oil temperature, oil pressure, (gear indicator and manifold pressure). So according to original owners statements, the aircraft was never technically airworthy. Wonder how many conditional inspections were signed off without fuel gauges?

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