Forced landing due to fuel starvation, near Langham Airstrip, Norfolk, 25 March 2017.
The pilot was making a return flight to Felthorpe Airfield from Fenland Airfield. He was flying in formation and both flights were flown faster than the aircraft’s optimum cruise speed. He expected to land at Felthorpe with 30 min of fuel in reserve, using a simple calculation based on elapsed time because the reserve tank did not have a quantity gauge.
While passing the former RAF station at Langham, at 800 ft agl, the engine surged and then stopped. The pilot turned towards the former airfield and commenced his forced landing checks before spotting Langham Airstrip south of the old airfield. Initially, he aimed towards this airstrip, but on realising he could not reach it he elected to land in a nearby paddock. He touched down with an estimated tailwind of 10 kt, and the aircraft had almost stopped when the left wing contacted a fence, slewing the aircraft through approximately 75º on rough grass. This created a side load which displaced the trunnion for the tail skid pintle.
The pilot observed that he had underestimated the fuel consumption during relatively fast formation flight and that his use of elapsed time to estimate the remaining fuel was unsatisfactory. He has now fitted a gauge which indicates fuel remaining in the reserve tank.
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Published: 10 August 2017
Date of occurrence: 25 March 2017