By NICK VLAHOS
For The Weekly Post
HANNA CITY – Almost no fuel was found inside a single-engine airplane involved in a fatal crash last month in downtown Hanna City, according to authorities.
The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report last weekend regarding the accident, which happened about 12:30 p.m. Aug. 13. A New Mexico pilot and his wife were killed after he attempted an emergency landing on Illinois Route 116.
During a post-accident examination of the four-seat 1982 Mooney M20K, only a small amount of aviation fuel was found in the right-wing tank, the report stated. The report was not specific regarding fuel quantity.
The plane’s fuel selector was on a right-tank setting, according to the report. No fuel was found in the left-wing tank, which the crash breached.
About 3 ounces of fuel were found in the fuel strainer. No blockages were found in the plane’s fuel lines, at least one of which was empty. Magnetos, which produce voltage that helps provide engine ignition, worked properly when tested.
The examination took place at an undisclosed location, according to NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway. When contacted Sunday, he had no additional information.
A receipt from Santa Fe (N.M.) Regional Airport indicated 54.2 gallons of fuel were purchased Aug. 10 for the plane, the NTSB report stated. After that, the plane flew once for about four minutes above the airport. There was no evidence of subsequent fuel purchases.
James W. Evanson, 75, and Lisa K. Evanson, 67, were killed in the Hanna City crash. They were traveling from Santa Fe to the Peoria international airport, according to the NTSB. No flight plan was filed.
Normal fuel capacity and range for the Mooney M20K is about 70 gallons and about 875 nautical miles, according to globalair.com. Nautical mileage between Santa Fe and Peoria is about 955.
According to the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper, the Evansons were en route to New York, where they once operated a high-end furniture showroom. Married in 1984, the Evansons were registered architects.
James Evanson also was an artist.
Evanson’s plane left Santa Fe at 6:39 a.m. MDT Aug. 13 and climbed to 15,000 feet for the five-hour flight to Peoria, the NTSB report stated. The plane made no stops on the way. Skies at the Peoria airport were clear. Visibility was about 10 miles.
About 28 miles west of the airport, James Evanson contacted Peoria air-traffic control, which gave him landing instructions. But about 18 miles later, Evanson informed controllers the plane’s engine lost power, according to the report. He also said the plane wouldn’t reach the airport.
The flight’s last recorded data point plotted the plane at Route 116 and Pekin Lane, at the west edge of Hanna City. Video footage revealed landing gear was extended and the engine propeller was windmilling.
As the eastbound plane descended, it struck power lines that became embedded in its vertical stabilizer, the report stated. After the aircraft touched pavement, the left wing struck a railing, a speed-limit sign and a power pole, all along the north side of Route 116.
Impact with the pole sheared the wing about 7 feet from the fuselage. The rest of the plane spun and struck a building, according to witnesses.
The aircraft came to rest outside Gil’s Supper Club. Pilot and passenger were pronounced dead at the scene.
There was no fire or explosion. Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood suggested James Evanson’s actions were heroic. The plane avoided vehicles, and nobody on the ground was injured.
A final report that includes probable cause of the accident might take up to two years, according to the NTSB.
By NICK VLAHOS