The pilot, who had recently purchased the Beech V35, reported that he performed a preflight inspection that included “physical fuel level inspection in each wing with a flashlight.”
He checked both wing fuel sumps and drained the fuel sump twice on the left side. Additionally, he sampled the fuel in the belly fuel sump and then secured its door.
The flight departed Propwash Airport in Justin, Texas, destined for Van Zandt County Regional Airport in Wills Point, Texas.
According to the pilot, about 30 minutes after departure, when the airplane was about 2,200 feet mean sea level, the engine lost power.
He switched the selector from the left fuel tank to the right fuel tank. However, the engine did not respond, and he performed a forced landing near Terrell, Texas, During the forced landing, the airplane hit trees and terrain, sustaining substantial damage to both wings, the fuselage, and the empennage.
An examination of the airplane at the accident site found that the right wing contained fuel and that the left wing was compromised from impact damage. The pilot said that the fuel gauges indicated half tanks for both wings.
The fuselage fuel gascolator (located on the left side of the fuselage) was removed. Its fuel screen was clear of debris or contaminants. However, a blue stain, which was consistent with the color of 100 low-lead aviation gasoline, was observed both on the exterior of the bowl and top of the unit.
The airplane was modified with wing tip fuel tanks that were subsequently removed. However, the airplane components were not placarded that the wing tip tanks were removed.
There were no other pre-impact anomalies noted during the examination that would have affected normal engine operation.
Probable Cause: Fuel starvation due to a fuel system leak, which resulted in a loss of engine power and the subsequent forced landing on unsuitable terrain.
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This September 2020 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.