The private pilot was conducting a personal cross-country flight in Beech C24R.
He last fueled the plane 10 days before the accident. Review of GPS data and fueling records revealed that between the last fueling and the accident, the airplane had been operated for nearly four hours.
Several witnesses observed the airplane flying overhead as it neared the destination airport and then saw it hit treetops near a golf course in Winder, Georgia. The pilot died in the crash.
One of the witnesses stated that the left wing was low and that the airplane was losing altitude “very quickly” before it hit terrain.
Another witness reported hearing the engine “sputtering” before impact. The witness drove to the accident scene and saw fuel leaking from the airplane.
Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of any pre-impact mechanical malfunctions or abnormalities that would have precluded normal operation. However, the examination noted a lack of rotational signatures on the propeller.
The right fuel tank was found intact and empty. The witness’s description of the engine sputtering, as well as the lack of rotational signatures on the propeller, suggest that the engine had likely lost power before the impact.
Although the fuel selector was found in the left fuel tank position, it could not be determined what position the selector valve was in before the loss of engine power. It is possible that the pilot exhausted the fuel in the right fuel tank and was attempting to restart the engine from the left fuel tank when the accident occurred, however, based on the available evidence, the reason for the loss of engine power could not be determined.
Probable cause: A total loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined because the examination of the wreckage did not reveal any mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.
NTSB Identification: ERA16FA075
This December 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.