Sunday, December 27, 2020

Fuel Starvation: Piper PA-22-150 Tri-Pacer, N2621P; accident occurred October 27, 2019 near Benson Airport (6MN9), White Bear Township, Minnesota

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Minneapolis, Minnesota

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: White Bear Township, Minnesota 
Accident Number: CEN20LA015
Date & Time: October 27, 2019, 10:55 Local
Registration: N2621P
Aircraft: Piper PA22 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Fuel starvation Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

Factual Information

On October 27, 2019, about 1055 central daylight time, a Piper PA22-150 airplane, N2621P, impacted terrain during a takeoff from Benson Airport (6MN9), White Bear Township, Minnesota. The airline transport pilot sustained serious injuries and the airplane was substantially damaged during the impact. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area about the time of the accident, and the flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight was originating from 6MN9 at the time of the accident.

The pilot reported that this was the first flight of the day and he conducted a preflight examination of the airplane to include "trims." The pilot reported the fuel quantity was 18 gallons in the left tank, the engine had 5 quarts oil, and he indicated that there was "no fuel in the right tank." He taxied the airplane on runway 13 and performed a "running" carb check and magneto test. At end of runway 13, the pilot turned the airplane and broadcast the flight's takeoff on runway 31 and enter the traffic pattern. He started the takeoff on runway 31 and did not remember anything further about the flight.

According to information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airplane impacted a tree and terrain about 1/4 mile northwest of the departure end of runway 31. It came to rest near a ditch. 

At 1045, the recorded weather at the Anoka County-Blaine Airport (Janes Field), near Minneapolis, Minnesota, was: Wind 300° at 10 kts, gusting to 15 kts; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition overcast clouds at 2,000 ft; temperature 7° C; dew point 2° C; altimeter 29.90 inches of mercury.

The temperature and dew point spread were plotted on a carburetor icing chart. Their intersection on the icing chart indicated a probability of carburetor icing at any power setting.

An FAA Inspector examined the wreckage after the accident and photo documented the airplane controls. The inspector indicated that the right fuel tank was found dry. The quantity of liquid present in the left fuel tank had a visual appearance of about 5 gallons. The fuel selector valve was positioned to the right fuel tank. The gascolator/strainer was intact and found to be dry when examined. The engine was not bound and it turned when rotated by hand.

The airplane owner's handbook, in part, stated:

Two 18-gallon fuel tanks located in the wings provide fuel storage in the Tri-Pacer. ... The main fuel strainer, through which all fuel going to the carburetor flows, is located on the lower left engine side of the firewall. … Before take-off, it is very important that the fuel selector be checked to make sure it is on the proper tank.


When fuel quantity in right tank is 1/3 or less use only in level flight.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline transport; Commercial; Flight engineer; Flight instructor
Age: 78, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land; Single-engine sea; Multi-engine land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Glider; Helicopter 
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane; Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane single-engine; Helicopter 
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With waivers/limitations 
Last FAA Medical Exam: October 2, 2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: May 2, 2018
Flight Time: 7957 hours (Total, all aircraft), 315 hours (Total, this make and model), 7409 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N2621P
Model/Series: PA22 150 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1955 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 22-2957
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle 
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: April 16, 2019 
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2677.61 Hrs as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C126 installed, activated, aided in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-320
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power: 150 Horsepower
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC)
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KANE, 912 ft msl 
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 10:45 Local 
Direction from Accident Site: 282°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility: 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 2000 ft AGL
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 10 knots / 15 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:  /
Wind Direction: 300° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:  /
Altimeter Setting: 29.89 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 7°C / 2°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: White Bear Township, MN (6MN9)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: White Bear Township, MN (6MN9)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 10:55 Local
Type of Airspace:

Airport Information

Airport: BENSON 6MN9 
Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 942 ft msl 
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 30
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 2000 ft / 75 ft 
VFR Approach/Landing: Traffic pattern; None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious 
Latitude, Longitude: 45.116664,-92.996109(est)


  1. Another classic bird bites the dust.

    1. was thinking the same; you just can't make this stuff up! :-(