NTSB Identification: NYC96LA098.
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Accident occurred Friday, May 03, 1996 in BATH, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/01/1997
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-180, registration: N9549J
Injuries: 1 Serious,1 Minor.

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 pilot was en route at night in instrument meteorological conditions when he realized that he was low on fuel. He decided to divert to Allentown, Pennsylvania. About 3 miles from the airport, the engine lost power. During a subsequent forced landing, the airplane collided with a tree and was damaged. According to the pilot, '...After some time flying I realize that the headwinds (were) stronger than when I did my flight planning, but I (took) action too late.' Examination of the airplane by the FAA revealed the fuel tanks were empty. There were no breaks or leaks in the fuel tanks or fuel lines. No mechanical malfunction was reported by either the pilot or the FAA. The pilot reported he had 36 gallons of fuel onboard at the time of departure. According to records, the airplane had been operated over 4 hours at the time of the power loss.

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

the pilot's improper in-flight decision and planning, and his mismanagement of the fuel supply, which resulted in fuel exhaustion and the loss of engine power. Darkness and low clouds in the emergency landing area were related factors.

Full narrative available

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