NTSB Identification: DEN03LA026.
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Accident occurred Thursday, December 26, 2002 in Spanish Fork, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/26/2003
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-181, registration: N75337
Injuries: 1 Serious,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 departed, with full fuel tanks, to visit family members for Christmas. During his return trip aircraft preflight, he visually checked the fuel tanks and fuel gauges. "One registered just under 20 gallons and the other 15 gallons." He did not take on additional fuel before departure. The pilot said the engine lost power approximately half way home. He said he enriched the mixture, activated the electric fuel pump, and switched fuel tanks. The engine's power increased. The pilot said he decided to head toward Spanish Fork Canyon. Shortly thereafter, with the Spanish Fork Airport in sight, the engine again lost power. The pilot performed a forced landing to an open field. During the landing roll, the airplane nosed over. Postaccident examination of the terrain revealed that it was frozen hard. An FAA inspector retrieved approximately 1/4 cup of fuel from one fuel tank, and he reported the other tank was empty. The inspector also said the fuel strainers were clean, but dry.

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

the pilot's inadequate preflight planning and preparation and his in-flight decision/planning resulting in fuel exhaustion. A contributing factor was the rough, frozen terrain at the landing site.

Full narrative available

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