NTSB Identification: SEA02LA093.
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Accident occurred Friday, May 31, 2002 in Anacortes, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/24/2002
Aircraft: Cessna 172M, registration: N496HM
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.

After reaching his initial destination on a round-robin cross-country flight, the pilot discovered that the runway was closed for repair, so he flew back along his outbound route looking for a place to refuel. He landed at an agricultural airstrip, but determined that there was no fuel available there. After departing the agricultural airstrip, he decided to land at a municipal airport in a nearby town, but was unable to locate the runway. He then made the decision to return to his initial departure point without stopping to take on fuel. While on final approach to the initial departure point, the aircraft ran out of fuel, and the pilot was forced to land on a nearby gravel beach. Although the touchdown was uneventful, during the landing roll, the aircraft nosed over on the soft terrain. According to the pilot, he did not keep an accurate tally of his fuel burn and total time airborne, and in considering his fuel situation while en route, he forgot to take into account a one hour and 40 minute flight on the previous day. It was also determined that the fuel quantity gauges did not accurately reflect the total amount of fuel onboard the aircraft while airborne.

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

The pilot's improper decision to continue his flight after failing to take on fuel at a planned en route refueling stop, which lead to a loss of power from fuel exhaustion while on final approach to his round-robin final destination. Factors include inaccurate fuel quantity gauges, no suitable terrain on which to execute the forced landing, and soft terrain where the pilot ultimately decided to put the aircraft down.

Full narrative available

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