Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Wheeler Express Auriga, N505JS: Accident occurred August 14, 2020 near Cottonwood Airport (1C8), Rockford, Illinois

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Des Plaines, Illinois

Location: Rockford, IL
Accident Number: CEN20LA342
Date & Time: 08/14/2020, 1144 CDT
Registration: N505JS
Aircraft: Siebel Auriga
Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On August 14, 2020, about 1144 central daylight time, an experimental Siebel Auriga airplane, N505JS, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Rockford, Illinois. The pilot was not injured. The driver of an automobile sustained minor injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot report that he departed runway 18 at Cottonwood Airport (1C8), Rockford, Illinois, and continued north of the airport where he intended to monitor engine oil temperatures after making changes to the engine cowling to increase cooling. The pilot reported that while climbing through 3,000 ft, about 3-5 miles north of 1C8, the engine "sputtered and quit." The pilot changed fuel tanks and turned on the auxiliary fuel pump but was unable to restore engine power. The pilot noted that the engine restarted a couple of times but it would lose power when he increased the engine throttle. The pilot then made a 180° course reversal to make a straight-in forced landing on runway 18 at 1C8. The pilot reported that he was high on final approach and performed a forward slip maneuver to lose additional altitude. The pilot reported that the airplane landed about midfield, and that despite using maximum braking, the airplane overran the end of the runway, through the airport perimeter fence, and onto a street where it was struck by an automobile.

The engine was removed from the airplane and mounted in a test cell where it was run multiple times. The postaccident engine test runs did not identify any malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. The magnetos were correctly timed at 25° before top-dead-center. The engine-driven fuel pump functioned normally. The auxiliary fuel pump functioned, but the output pressure was below the engine manufacturer's minimum specification. Additional examination of the airplane's fuel tanks, fuel tank vents, fuel tank selector valve, fuel strainer assembly, P-leads, and ignition switch did not identify any anomalies or failures that would have precluded normal engine operation. The pilot reported that he departed on the flight with 45 gallons of fuel, and that he observed fuel leaking from the airplane following the accident. The pilot estimated that 25 gallons of fuel were drained from the airplane before it was recovered from the accident site.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Siebel
Registration: N505JS
Model/Series: Auriga
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
Operator:On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: RFD, 742 ft msl
Observation Time: 1154 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 6 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C / 18°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 5000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots / 14 knots, 160°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.04 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Rockford, IL (1C8)
Destination: Rockford, IL (1C8)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 42.288056, -89.136111 (est)

From the aircraft owner: The vehicle hit the left wingtip, failed the left gear and drove up onto the left wing spinning the plane 80 degrees. The plane was landing. It had been flying to the north. Had an engine failure and dead sticked in from 5 miles north. No chance for a go around. Landed long and hot. Wet grass poor braking.

ROCKFORD — A small plane and a car collided on Auburn Street on Friday after the aircraft engine failed and the pilot had to make an emergency landing.

The plane slid off the grass runway at Cottonwood Airport, which is across the street from Auburn High School, and crashed through a chain-link fence onto Auburn Street, where a westbound Chevy Impala drove up its wing. The crash happened around 11:45 a.m.

“I was flying; the engine quit 5 miles out. I made an emergency crash landing,” said pilot James Siebel, 79, of Rockford. “I’m fine. The only thing that hurts are my pocketbook and my psyche.”

Siebel was flying with an instructor in an experimental Wheeler Express Auriga plane he built himself from 1990 to 2002. He is a licensed pilot but was flying with an flight instructor because he’s not licensed to fly that type of plane alone, he said. The flight instructor was not injured.

The driver of the car was taken to the hospital for treatment of injuries that are not life-threatening. A passenger in the car declined medical treatment, West Suburban Fire Department Deputy Chief Kay Gober said.

“Upon arrival we found the car on top of the wing of the plane on the middle of Auburn Street,” Gober said. “The pilot said he slid off the runway and the car had no time to react.”

The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department will assist the Federal Aviation Administration with the investigation.

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