NTSB Identification: ATL02LA123.
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Accident occurred Sunday, June 16, 2002 in Bethlehem, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/29/2003
Aircraft: Piper PA-28R-200, registration: N15143
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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 was practicing steep turns at 3,000 feet MSL and pulled the power back to descend. At 2,100 feet MSL, the pilot added power, but there was no change in performance in the airplane. The pilot established glide airspeed toward a field and completed the emergency procedures, but engine power did not return. The airplane touched down in the field and sank deeply into the wet, plowed soil, and the left wing struck an irrigation sprinkler. Examination of the wreckage revealed the left main gear was collapsed, the nosewheel was separated, and the left wing sustained crush damage. Fuel leaked from the damaged wing and was contained by emergency response personnel; approximately 5 to 6 gallons was recovered from the left tank and 3 to 4 gallons was recovered from the right tank. The engine was examined and ran with no evidence of mechanical malfunction nor abnormalities. The Piper Cherokee II Information Manual states in Section 7-1, Operating Tips, Item 15: "The shape of the wing fuel tanks is such that in certain (flight) maneuvers fuel may move away from the tank outlet. If the outlet is uncovered, the fuel flow will be interrupted and a temporary loss of power may result."

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

The pilot's failure to follow operational procedures for the airplane, which resulted in a loss of engine power due to fuel starvation/fuel flow interruption. A factor was the lack of suitable terrain, resulting in a collision with an irrigation sprinkler during forced landing.

Full narrative available

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