NTSB Identification: IAD97GA081.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, June 04, 1997 in HARRISONBURG, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/15/1999
Aircraft: Piper PA-18-150, registration: N4310Z
Injuries: 1 Minor,1 Uninjured.

: 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 public aircraft accident report.

The commercial pilot and observer were flying an official survey flight for the state Game and Inland Fisheries. After 2 hours 20 minutes, they were returning to the airport when the engine began to 'spit and sputter'. The pilot was able to get the engine running again for about 5 seconds, and then declared that they were going to land. The pilot spotted a grass strip and attempted a downwind landing, when he noticed a mobile home at the end of the strip. The pilot reported that he ran the right wing into a tree in order to avoid the home. Examination of the wreckage revealed that the right fuel tank was empty and the left tank was full. The fuel selector was set on the right tank. The pilot reported that he was preoccupied during the flight and forgot to switch tanks.

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

The pilot's preoccupation which led to fuel starvation of the selected tank and the subsequent forced landing.

Full narrative available

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