NTSB Identification: IAD99LA018.
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Accident occurred Sunday, November 15, 1998 in ESSEX, MD
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/22/2000
Aircraft: Cessna 172, registration: N5806A
Injuries: 2 Minor.

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-in-command departed Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, approximately 2145 in the Cessna 172 destined for Essex, Maryland, 125 nautical miles (straight line) distant. He reported a total of 30 gallons of fuel aboard at departure (20 gallons having been purchased at Wilkes-Barre), and estimated a flight duration of 1.75 hours. According to the aircraft owner's manual, unusable fuel was 2.5 gallons per tank, and the maximum fuel consumption for the O-300-A engine at 2,500 feet above sea level is 12.6 gallons/hour (worst case scenario). Fuel consumption decreases as altitude is increased and/or RPM is decreased. Approaching his destination, the pilot descended from 3,500 feet 1,000 feet, entered the downwind, applied carburetor heat and initiated a left base turn at 700 feet. He reported that RPM dropped off, and unable to reach the airport, he ditched the aircraft in a river under dark night conditions approximately 2330 local. A post crash test run of the engine was inconclusive and approximately 6 gallons of fuel was recovered from within the right wing fuel tank with the remaining fluid from both tanks being water. Temperature/dew point near the time of the accident was 43/30 degrees F. and serious carburetor icing conditions may have existed.

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

A loss of engine power for undetermined reasons. Factors were the lack of suitable terrain for a forced landing and dark night conditions.

Full narrative available

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