According to the pilot, shortly after takeoff he noticed that there was no movement on the header tank fuel float gauge in the Ercoupe 415-C.
He went on to say that the fuel float gauge then started to move “down quickly,” and since he still had the airport at Fairmont, West Virginia, in sight, he decided to turn back and conduct a precautionary landing.
As he approached for landing he “raised” the nose of the airplane to slow down, but became “too low and too slow” and the airplane hit a road adjacent to the airport.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and wings and the pilot sustained minor injuries.
Examination of the fuel float gauge by an FAA inspector did not reveal any anomalies. In addition, the pilot reported there were no pre-impact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed and his exceedance of the wing’s critical angle of attack, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and subsequent collision with terrain.
NTSB Identification: ERA15CA317
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.