NTSB Identification: NYC98LA069.
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Accident occurred Friday, February 27, 1998 in WALBRIDGE, OH
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/30/2000
Aircraft: Piper PA28R-180, registration: N4679J
Injuries: 1 Fatal,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.

When the pilot preflighted the airplane, he observed the fuel in the right tank was even with the point where the bottom of the tank met the outboard vertical wall of the tank, which he estimated was 13 gallons. He observed the fuel in the left tank to be level with a point about 2 inches from the outboard vertical wall, along the bottom surface of the tank, which he estimated was 7-8 gallons. The pilot then flew a 30 minute flight stopping at Sandusky, Ohio, to pick up a passenger. During the second takeoff under dark night conditions, the pilot told the passenger to expect the engine to quit because he planned to run the fuel out of the left tank, and save the right tank for the approach. About 10 minutes after takeoff the engine quit. The pilot switched tanks and the engine restarted for a few minutes, and then quit again while the aircraft was climbing through 7,700 feet. The pilot performed a forced landing noticing wires in his flight path and 'dove sharply to avoid them' without success. The airplane struck a lower set of wires on approach to a field. Examination of the wreckage revealed the left and right fuel tanks were intact and contained about 1/2 quart of fuel each. The airplane's useable fuel capacity was 48 gallons, and according to range charts, the engine's fuel consumption rate was 8.1 gallons per hour at 70% power. The airplane had been flown about 5.91 hours since its last refueling.

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

the pilot's failure to refuel the aircraft resulting in fuel exhaustion, and his unsuccessful attempt to clear the wires. Contributing factors were the pilot's inadequate preflight, dark night conditions, and the wires.

Full narrative available

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