Last night I crashed an airplane.

During the annual of this Tiger, I had found over 100 items that would have grounded the plane.  It had been maintained by the owner.  It was a really messed up Tiger.  Really messed up.  After I delivered it, it was worse.
  -  Gary L Vogt

On Friday, 17 April 1998, I departed Fox Field at around 7:15pm to deliver an airplane to it's owner who lived in a private fly-in community in Southern California. My cruising altitude was around 5,500 feet for the entire flight. About 10 miles out I began to reduce altitude to the pattern altitude of 4,410 feet (airport altitude was 3,410 feet). I arrived around 8:00pm and entered the traffic pattern by overflying the airport on 'the 45' at around 4,400 feet, reducing power as I overflew the airport. I entered the downwind leg for runway 24 and noticed the airspeed indicator was at the top of the white arc (103 knots). I added about 1/3 flaps. As the plane slowed to below 100 knots I began my base leg and added full flaps to slow the plane down and to steepen the decent.

After I lined up on the runway, which was very well lighted, I glanced down at the airspeed indicator which showed 85 knots. While looking at the airspeed indicator I heard a "Kunk" sound and immediately looked up and noticed the propeller had stopped; it was silhouetted in the dusk against the sunset. I thought I'd had a catastrophic engine failure. I then noticed some power lines in my path and at the same time noticed the lights of the runway flicker and go out. I quickly pulled back on the yoke to keep from hitting the power lines, lost airspeed, pushed the nose over to gain back airspeed and thought I could still make the runway.

I stretched the glide the best I could by flying right on the edge of a stall. The airplane suddenly began to sink and I hit the ground in a nose level to slightly nose up attitude. I skidded along the desert for about 50 yards. I began to think I was going to come to a stop with very little damage to the plane and then I noticed that someone had cut a dirt road, perpendicular to the runway and about six to seven feet lower than the surface on which I was skidding. My thought was, "Damn it, I'm going over an embankment."

After the plane went over the embankment and came to rest on the dirt road, my next recollection was of me standing outside the airplane looking in and wondering, "Did I shut the Master switch off and turn the fuel selector to off?" I didn't remember taking off my shoulder harness and seat belt, or getting out of the plane, but I must have, because as I stood there I thought, "I don't remember doing these things yet they were done."

A post crash examination of the airplane revealed a three to four inch gash in the spinner (as if someone had taken a can opener to the spinner near the propeller hub) and there were some marks on one propeller blade which looked like it had scraped on something. One of the maintenance workers said he went up and looked at the power lines on the first row of power lines (furthest from the runway). Apparently there were two rows of power lines and somehow I had hit a wire on the first row. A maintenance worker said NONE of the power lines were broken. One power line, however, had been pulled out of it's support. Power was restored about an hour after the incident.

I had talked with the owner of the airplane just 30 minutes before I left and he didn't mention the power lines or the fact that the terrain rose significantly on both the approach and departure ends of the runway. I double checked my Los Angeles sectional and there is no indication of an obstruction on the approach to the runway. The second set of power lines (closest to the approach end of the runway) was clearly marked with red balls. The set of power lines which I hit was NOT marked in any way.

Lessons Learned: When entering an unknown airport during any time of day when the visibility is marginal, be sure to get an adequate briefing of what to look for and what to expect.