NTSB Identification: FTW97LA198.
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Accident occurred Monday, May 26, 1997 in WARD, AR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/28/2000
Aircraft: Piper PA-24-250, registration: N7967P
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 purpose of the flight was to fly to a nearby airport, practice touch and go landings, and return. He anticipated the local flight to be about 1 hour. During the preflight, the pilot inspected the fuel and noted that the 'left main [tank] was down quite a bit', the 'left auxiliary [tank] was down some', the 'right main [tank] was down slightly', and the right auxiliary [tank] was full.' He recalled that when he flew the airplane last (the previous week), he had switched from using the left main tank to the right main tank, and flew for about 30 minutes on the right main tank. He further reported that, he did not have access to the fuel tank on the field so he did not top off the fuel tanks. After departure, the pilot flew to the nearby airport, and made 3 or 4 landings to a full stop. While on the return flight, the engine lost power and the pilot was forced to land in heavily wooded terrain. Examination of the wreckage at the accident site by an FAA inspector revealed that the left and right main fuel tanks were empty, the left auxiliary tank was 1/2 to 3/4 full and the right auxiliary fuel tank was full. The fuel selector handle was found in the 'fuel off' position.

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

The loss of engine power resulting from fuel starvation due to the pilot's mismanagement of available fuel. A factor was the lack of suitable terrain for a forced landing.

Full narrative available

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