NTSB Identification: SEA98LA142.
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Accident occurred Saturday, July 18, 1998 in KALISPELL, MT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/15/2001
Aircraft: Socata RALLYE 235E, registration: N301RA
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 flight was a 'powder bombing' mission being conducted at a local fly-in. The pilot reported that in order to give his passenger, the 'bombardier', a closer view of the target (on a private airstrip along a river), he initiated an extended 30-degree bank right turn at approximately 500 feet above some trees in the area. He reported that at this time, the left wing tank was empty, the right wing tank contained 14 gallons of fuel, and the fuel selector was on right tank. He stated that 'fuel drained away from [the fuel] pump, [and the] engine died due to lack of fuel.' He stated he tried banking the plane left to restart the engine, but could not get it to restart. He then performed a forced landing in the river after deciding he would not be able to clear the trees to make the airstrip. The airplane's fuel selector was found set to right tank in post-accident examination, and no fuel was found in the line from the engine-driven fuel pump to the carburetor. After the engine was flushed and the magnetos dried, the engine was successfully test-run. Each of the airplane's two separated wing tanks has a 37-gallon capacity, with 35.66 gallons usable.

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

The pilot-in-command's improper fuel management, resulting in fuel starvation. Related factors were insufficient altitude available for effective remedial action, and lack of suitable terrain for a forced landing.

Full narrative available

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