NTSB Identification: ATL04CA149.
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Accident occurred Saturday, July 10, 2004 in Tallassee, AL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/29/2004
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-161, registration: N6AU
Injuries: 1 Minor.
NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The pilot stated that he performed a preflight on the airplane and that he observed the fuel tanks to be "half full". The pilot then took off from Wetumpka Municipal Airport and went to Autauga County Airport in Prattville, Alabama where he performed three touch and go landings and flew around the local area. The pilot went back to Wetumpka and performed four touch and go landings. From there, the pilot decided that he would fly to Auburn, Alabama. While en route, the pilot stated that he "fell asleep and ran the left fuel tank empty." His next memory was the impact with the ground in a cotton field. Examination of the airplane revealed the wreckage path was approximately 50 feet long on a heading of 210 degrees. All three landing gears were separated from the airplane and both propeller blades were bent aft with no rotational twisting of the blades. The engine mount was broken, the throttle control was found closed, the mixture was found full rich and the fuel selector was found on the left tank. No fuel was found in the left fuel tank, however 10 to 15 gallons of fuel were found in the right fuel tank.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's mismanagement of the fuel supply, which resulted in fuel starvation and the subsequent loss of engine power. A factor was pilot fatigue and the unauthorized use of the airplane . Full narrative available
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