September 15, 2007, Dallas, Ga., Bellanca 17-30A


The airplane was substantially damaged during a forced landing about 1445 Eastern time after it experienced a loss of engine power while in cruise flight. The private pilot and sole occupant was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed. The accident flight was the first for the airplane in two years.

Earlier, the accident pilot attempted a takeoff. The airplane became airborne momentarily; however, the pilot aborted the takeoff, because he felt the engine “miss.” The owner and accident pilot subsequently sumped the fuel tanks and discovered water in all four of them. After draining the fuel system, the accident pilot again took off.

With the owner following in another airplane, they approached the nearby destination airport. The accident pilot began a normal descent then turned back to the south, reporting an engine failure, and said he would attempt an emergency landing at what appeared to be an old runway. During the attempt, the airplane struck trees and came to rest inverted in a wooded area. Investigation of the wreckage revealed water in the engine-driven fuel pump, mixture control inlet screen and fuel manifold.


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