NTSB Identification: NYC97FA025.
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Accident occurred Monday, December 02, 1996 in FELTON, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/06/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-260, registration: N5538J
Injuries: 1 Fatal,2 Serious.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot departed the round trip cross country flight with a total of 50 gallons of fuel. The first flight was 2 hours and 15 minutes. Prior to the return night flight, the pilot elected not to refuel the airplane. The airplane was one hour into the return flight, 70 nautical miles from the departure point, and 90 miles from the final destination, when the engine lost total power. The pilot then performed a forced landing, during which the airplane impacted trees. Examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence of preimpact failures with the airplane. A few tablespoons of fuel was observed in the carburetor gascolator. Both main fuel tanks had ruptured and were absent of fuel. There was no evidence of a fuel spill in the vicinity of the wreckage. The last refueling facility was tested and found free from contamination. The fuel burn was calculated to be 14 gallons per hour allowing a total flight endurance of 3.5 hours with no reserve. The airplane was operated for 3.3 hours prior to losing total engine power.

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

The pilot's inadequate preflight planning and preparation, and his failure to refuel which resulted in fuel exhaustion and the subsequent collision with trees during the forced landing.

Full narrative available

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