NTSB Identification: LAX02LA107.
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Accident occurred Thursday, March 14, 2002 in SANTA CLARITA, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/25/2003
Aircraft: Cessna 177B, registration: N11487
Injuries: 1 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 made an off airport landing on a highway at night following a total loss of engine power. He had flown the airplane the day before for about 2 hours, and had visually verified full fuel before that flight. He estimated that he had over 2 hours of fuel remaining in the tanks. He experienced no difficulties with the airplane or engine during the first leg of his flight, which lasted about 30 minutes. During the return flight, he had the fuel selector valve on the "BOTH" position. He began his descent from cruise altitude of 6,000 feet. The engine began to sputter and lose power, but continued to run for about 4 minutes. He tried operating of the left and right tanks individually, but the engine remained at reduced power. He alternated the magnetos between the left, right, and both positions. The engine did not respond and eventually quit. He declared an emergency on frequency 121.5; he circled and looked for a landing spot, but it was too dark. He thought Interstate 5 was too busy, so he elected to land on a side road. His wing collided with a light pole and the airplane veered into a fence. Both wings separated from the airplane and the fuselage ripped open. A deputy, who arrived on scene within 5 minutes of the accident, did not smell fuel, observe any puddles of fuel on the ground, or see any fuel stains on the pole. The left wing tank ruptured, but the right wing tank did not. The deputy did not observe any fuel in the right tank.

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

The pilot performed inadequate planning and inaccurate fuel computations, and intiated flight without refueling. This resulted in a forced landing on a road at night due to fuel exhaustion.

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