The pilot and passenger were nearing the conclusion of a local flight when the JA30 Superstol’s engine began to “sputter and run rough.”
The engine momentarily ran smooth before it began to run rough a second time, followed by a total loss of power.
The pilot maneuvered the airplane for a forced landing, and stated that engine power was restored just prior to the plane hitting trees and terrain near West Union, S.C. The airplane came to rest upright, and sustained substantial damage to both wings and the empennage.
During a post-accident wreckage examination, a one-quart fuel sample was drained from the airplane, and about half of the sample was water.
The pilot stated that prior to the accident flight, he had mistakenly fueled the airplane from a container of contaminated fuel.
Probable cause: A loss of engine power while maneuvering due to water contamination in the fuel.
NTSB Identification: ERA15CA295
This August 2015 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.