NTSB Identification: NYC01LA070.
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Accident occurred Monday, January 22, 2001 in Grafton, WV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/24/2002
Aircraft: Whittman Tailwind DN-1, registration: N911N
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Prior to the day of the accident, the pilot had not flown the make and model accident airplane. He "topped off" the 24-gallon fuel tank with 21.5 gallons of fuel. The pilot then performed two takeoffs and landings to familiarize himself with the airplane. The familiarization flight lasted about 20 minutes, and then the pilot let the engine idle on the ground for approximately 20 minutes, before he departed about 1400 on a cross country flight. "About" 1630, a witness observed a blue and white airplane circling a lake about 200-300 feet above the ground. The witness heard the engine noise cease, return, and cease again. The airplane then disappeared from sight, and the wreckage was located 5 days later. It was about 1.5 miles from the lake, and 100 miles east of the destination airport. During examination of the wreckage, an FAA inspector did not find any fuel in the tanks or carburetor. He did find about 1/4 ounce of fuel in the fuel bowl. The inspector also found a piece of paper in the wreckage that revealed the pilot planned the flight to be 2 hours and 30 minutes, at 150 knots. However, the previous owner and a witness stated the airplane cruised about 110-120 knots. According to the engine manufacturer, the engine consumed about 7.2 gallons of fuel per hour at 75% cruise performance. Review of the data revealed that at performance cruise, for 3 hours and 15 minutes, the engine would consume approximately 23.4 gallons of fuel. Although the autopsy report indicated that the pilot died from the rupture of a pre-existing abdominal aortic aneurysm, evidence observed by rescue personnel suggested that the pilot initially survived the impact and attempted to activate the ELT and egress the airplane. Inspection of the ELT and maintenance records revealed that the batteries had been removed 6 days prior to the accident flight, and the entry "ELT removed for repairs this date" was made in the airframe logbook.

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

The pilot's improper preflight planning, which resulted in fuel exhaustion. A factor was the pilot's lack of familiarity with the airplane.

Full narrative available

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