NTSB Identification: DEN03LA051.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, March 18, 2003 in Vernal, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/25/2003
Aircraft: Panzl PAN, registration: N11ZL
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.
This was the pilot's first flight in the airplane. During the preflight, the previous owner "stuck" the fuel tanks and told the pilot that the main tank had an estimated 15 to 16 gallons of fuel, and the auxiliary tank (wing) was full. The pilot reported that he did not look into his fuel tanks. The previous owner said that he never flew with the fuel selector in the auxiliary position; by putting it in the both position, the auxiliary fuel flowed into the main tank and the engine continued to draw directly from the main tank. The pilot said that he flew on the main tank for approximately one hour and then turned the fuel selector to the auxiliary position (fuel flows directly from the auxiliary tank to the engine). Approximately 20 minutes later the engine quit. The pilot changed back to the main position on the fuel selector valve, but because his cruise altitude was approximately 1,500 feet AGL, he had little time to rectify the situation. During the subsequent forced landing, to an elevated highway, the pilot encounter high crosswinds and a downdraft resulting in the airplane impacting with high vertical forces. Post-accident examination revealed the auxiliary tank was empty and the main tank contained 3 to 4 gallons of fuel.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: the pilot's inadequate preflight preparation and his lack of familiarity with the airplane, which subsequently resulted in fuel starvation to the engine. Contributing factors were unfavorable wind conditions and the downdraft weather condition. Full narrative available
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