NTSB Identification: CHI88DEM08.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 39626.
Accident occurred Saturday, August 13, 1988 in GRAND HAVEN, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/16/1990
Aircraft: CHAMPION 7KCAB, registration: N5124T
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

THE PILOT STATED THAT HE WAS TOWING BANNERS ON THE DAY OF THE ACCIDENT. AFTER TOWING THE THIRD BANNER FOR AN ESTIMATED 1 1/4 HOURS, HE WAS RETURNING TO THE DEPARTURE AIRPORT WHEN THE AIRCRAFT'S ENGINE FAILED COMPLETELY. HE SELECTED THE 'CLOSEST FIELD THAT LOOKED THE BEST...' AND EXECUTED A FORCED LANDING ON AN AREA OF ROUGH SAND DUNES. THE PILOT HAD A COMMERCIAL PILOT'S CERTIFICATE WITH APPROXIMATELY 633 HOURS TOTAL FLIGHT TIME, OF WHICH 72 HOURS WERE IN THE ACCIDENT MAKE AND MODEL AIRCRAFT. THE PILOT REPORTED THAT HE HAD BEEN TOWING BANNERS FOR 'TWO SEASONS' AND 'ALWAYS TIMED...FUEL BURN TO LEAVE 1 HOUR RESERVE.' HE STATED THAT HE JUDGED HIS FUEL QUANTITY BY THE CUMULATIVE HOURS THE AIRCRAFT HAD FLOWN SINCE THE AIRCRAFT HAD NO ELECTRIC FUEL QUANTITY INDICATOR. HE STATED THAT HE ESTIMATED THAT HE HAD ONE HOUR OF FUEL REMAINING WHEN THE ENGINE QUIT.

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

THE PILOT'S INATTENTIVE FUEL SYSTEM MONITORING, AND THE RESULTANT TOTAL FAILURE OF THE AIRCRAFT'S POWERPLANT DUE TO FUEL EXHAUSTION. A FORCED LANDING WAS EXECUTED ON A STRETCH OF BEACH WITH SAND DUNES, AND THE AIRCRAFT WAS SUBSTANTIALLY DAMAGED DURING THE ROUGH TOUCHDOWN AND LANDING ROLL. THE PILOT EXPECTED TO HAVE AT LEAST ANOTHER HOUR OF FUEL, BASED ON PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE. FUEL QUANTITY WAS BEING JUDGED BY TIMING THE DURATION OF ACCUMULATED FLIGHTS; NO ELECTRIC FUEL QUANTITY INDICATOR WAS INSTALLED.

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