NTSB Identification: NYC01LA099.
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Accident occurred Friday, April 20, 2001 in Winchester, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/23/2001
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-161, registration: N286FT
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The pilot stated that he departed with full fuel tanks, and the fuel selector was initially positioned to the left tank. The pilot reported that he switched fuel tanks every 15 minutes. However, about 3 hours en route to his intended destination, the left fuel gauge displayed "E", and the right gauge displayed "1/4." The pilot decided to divert to a closer airport, but he could not activate the pilot-controlled runway lighting. Therefore, he continued to his original destination, and continued to select the left fuel tank. While on approach to the intended airport, the engine lost all power, and the pilot made a forced landing into trees. Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector did not reveal any pre-impact mechanical malfunctions. The right wing had separated from the airplane, and the right fuel tank was compromised. The left fuel tank was still intact, and the inspector found approximately 1 to 2 pints of fuel remaining in the left tank. Additionally, the airport manager at the alternate airport reported that he tested the pilot-controlled lighting, and it functioned properly. The pilot reported a total flight experience of 84 hours, of which, about 55 were in the make and model accident airplane. He obtained his private pilot certificate about 2 months prior to the accident.

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

The pilot's inadequate fuel management, which resulted in fuel starvation.

Full narrative available

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