NTSB Identification: MIA96LA008.
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Accident occurred Friday, October 13, 1995 in COVINGTON, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/22/1996
Aircraft: Piper PA-28R-180, registration: N3250R
Injuries: 4 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The flight departed with less than full fuel due to weight and balance considerations. En route, the pilot recognized a fuel shortage condition existed while the flight was near an airport with an ILS approach. The flight continued, and the pilot advised that the frequency congestion increased and ATC control was transferred to several sectors. The pilot then declared minimum fuel to the controller after he was advised that the flight was 50 miles from the planned destination. The controller vectored the flight to a nearby airport with an instrument approach, and while descending toward that airport, the engine sputtered momentarily then regained power when the fuel selector was positioned to the opposite tank. The pilot then declared an emergency and the flight was vectored direct toward the airport. After descending below the base of the clouds, the engine again sputtered. The pilot landed the airplane in a field with uneven terrain. It collided with an elevated gravel road, separating the nose gear, and became airborne. The airplane touched down again and the left main landing gear collapsed. Postcrash examination revealed that the fuel selector was positioned to the right fuel tank which was found to contain 3.5 gallons of fuel. The left wing fuel tank was empty.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

the pilot's failure to divert to an alternate airport after recognizing a low fuel state existed and his delay to declare an emergency with ATC. Contributing to the accident was the unsuitable terrain encountered during the forced landing.

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