NTSB Identification: ANC98LA005.
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Accident occurred Monday, October 20, 1997 in NAKNEK, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/06/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-20, registration: N7049K
Injuries: 1 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 departed on a local flight in the tailwheel-equipped airplane with 1/4 tank of fuel visible in the left fuel tank sight gauge. The fuel selector was positioned on the left tank. The right tank contained a small amount of fuel. While in cruise flight, the engine suddenly quit, and the pilot switched to the right fuel tank. The engine started, and ran for another 3 minutes, but quit running a second time. The pilot selected an open area of tundra and performed a forced landing. During the landing, the airplane's right main landing gear was broken from the fuselage. The pilot later reported that he departed with 18 gallons of fuel. The pilot said he encountered unexpected head winds, and switched fuel tanks to his reserve tank. The engine ran a few minutes, and then quit. The pilot reported an inspection of the airplane revealed a restriction in the fuel gauge, producing a false reading.

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

The loss of engine power due to the pilot's failure to refuel the airplane prior to fuel exhaustion. A factor associated with the accident was the lack of suitable terrain for a forced landing.

Full narrative available

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