NTSB Identification: LAX97LA298.
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Accident occurred Thursday, August 21, 1997 in VACAVILLE, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/23/1999
Aircraft: Beech H35, registration: N4689D
Injuries: 2 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 pilot reported that the aircraft fuel gauges always read 'full,' so he checked his fuel visually and timed each tank. He stated that he took off with 38 gallons of fuel, with the fuel selector on the left tank, and switched to the right tank about 18 nautical miles from his final destination. While entering the traffic pattern, he heard a 'funny noise.' The pilot reported that he put the throttle forward but the engine didn't seem to respond. He retracted the flaps and turned for the runway. The aircraft crashed in a field approximately 1/4 mile from the end of the runway. The pilot reported to the police officer who responded to the site that he 'blew it and ran out of gas.' An FAA inspector examined the aircraft. The fuel selector was in the 'off' position and fuel was present at the carburetor inlet when the line was removed. The fuel was drained from the aircraft. The right tip tank was empty, but had been damaged in the accident; the right auxiliary tank held about 9 gallons, and the right main tank held about 14 gallons. The left tip tank held about 2 gallons; the left auxiliary tank held 6.5 gallons, and the left main tank held about 3/4 gallon. The inspector stated that the engine was examined and no mechanical problems were found. The aircraft Pilot's Operating Handbook states that the carburetor returns about 3 gallons per hour of excess fuel. Fuel return lines are routed through the selector valve to the left main cell. The auxiliary cells and right main cell return fuel to the left main cell only.

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

The pilot's mismanagement of the fuel supply which resulted in fuel starvation. A contributing factor was inoperative fuel gauges.

Full narrative available

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