NTSB Identification: DEN02LA061.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, June 26, 2002 in Tucumcari, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/20/2002
Aircraft: Cessna 180, registration: N2443C
Injuries: 1 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 reported that during his cockpit preflight checks, he neglected to place the fuel selector switch on "both." The pilot said that after approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes, he began a descent for landing and "pulled the prop RPM back slightly." The pilot said, "The instant I reduced the RPM the engine began to surge ..." The pilot said he became fixated on the propeller governor as the problem. "When I returned to cruise RPM, it smoothed out for a moment and then began surging again and then stopped producing power." The pilot said he was about 5 miles from the airport. He stated that he immediately picked out a dirt road to land on. The pilot said, "Again, I failed to use the checklist." The pilot said that he was clear of all fences and obstacles when he touched the airplane down on the road, but during rollout the left wing struck a small tree, which caused the airplane to swerve and subsequently impact into a ditch. The pilot reported the fuel selector was positioned to the right tank. An examination of the airplane showed fuel in the left tank, and no fuel in the right tank. At the accident site, the fuel selector was observed in the "both" position. An examination of the engine, engine controls, and other airplane systems revealed no anomalies.

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

the pilot's failure to position the fuel selector to the proper tank resulting in fuel starvation and the subsequent loss of engine power. Factors contributing to the accident were the pilot's failure to use the checklist and the lack of suitable terrain for the forced landing.


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