According to the pilot, the Piper PA-18A departed the runway and climbed to 3,000′ above ground level.
She reported that while maneuvering, the airplane lost engine power. After several attempts to restart the engine, she made a forced landing on a highway bridge in Girdwood, Alaska.
During the landing roll, the right wing hit a sign that was affixed to the bridge.
According to the pilot, at the time of the accident, there were 20 gallons of fuel on board the airplane.
She reported that the airframe and powerplant mechanic removed approximately two cups of water from the fuel tanks after the accident in preparation for the airplane’s recovery.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing spar and aileron.
Probable cause: Fuel contamination resulting in the loss of engine power, a forced landing on a highway, and subsequent right wing impact with highway signage.
NTSB Identification: GAA16CA102
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.
Richard Schwartz says
This problem is not limited to aircraft. I recently had a similar episode with my truck. I drove into the gas station, filled up, and started my truck to go about my business. The engine ran OK for about ten seconds, then died. Subsequent restarts los power even faster. The local repair ship eventually drained 2 cups of water out of my tank.
With tail low attitude the quick drains do not sample the lowest point of the wing tanks. This happened to another pilot I know, only he only made it to 300’ before his engine quit.
If what you say is true then why on earth would the wing tank sumps be located where they are of no use for preflighting the condition of the fuel with respect to water contamination just because the wings happen to be attached to tail wheel airplane? Does someone have to hold up the tail while sampling is done or the tail wheel is rested on a block?