Accident Report from Aviation Safety Data Base
Accident occurred Sunday, July 12, 1987 at Firebaugh, California, USA
Aircraft: Ryan S-T-3KR PT-21, registration: N48777
Injuries: 2 Fatal.
At about 1650 pacific daylight time, the pilots of 2 Ryan ST3KR aircraft departed Coalinga, California on a flight to Los Banos, California. At about 1709 pacific daylight time, the pilot of N48777 made a hand signal to the other pilot, pointed toward the ground and entered "a normal glide". Subsequently, the pilot of N48777 maneuvered the aircraft to land in a cotton field. However, a witness said that before landing, the aircraft's nose piched up, then the aircraft entered a steep decent and crashed.
Impact occurred in an estimated 20 degree left wing down, 30 degree noselow attitude. The aircraft came to rest inverted. There was evidence that approximately 1/3 gal (1.25 l) of fuel had drained from the fuel tank. The carburetor had broken during impact; no fuel was found in the line to the carburator. The fuel selector was found in the off position (small pointer positioned toward "both off" and the handle pointing toward "main on"). The fuel system had a standpipe to provide 3 gal (11.36 l) of reserve fuel, but the pilot's management of the fuel wasn't determined.
Another ST3KR pilot estimated N48777 had about 10 gal (38 l) of fuel before the flight. A check of the pilot's blood showed an alcohol level of 0.04%.