NTSB Identification: LAX05LA183.
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Accident occurred Friday, May 20, 2005 in Avalon, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/31/2006
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-181, registration: N3004U
Injuries: 1 Serious,2 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 airplane experienced a total loss of engine power during cruise flight and impacted the ground during the ensuing forced landing. The pilot had flown from Long Beach to Catalina, whereupon he had lunch. The pilot said he believed he had 17 gallons in each tank when he left Long Beach. The pilot did not refuel the airplane at Catalina and did not visually verify the quantity of fuel in the airplane's two wing fuel tanks before taking off. After flying for several minutes, the engine lost power. The pilot noted one fuel tank gauge registered "empty," and the other gauge registered 1/4- and then 1/8-tank of fuel remaining. Engine power was briefly restored, and then it was finally completely lost. The pilot attempted a forced landing on the runway, but impacted the ground before reaching it. According to the aircraft rental firm's records, when the accident pilot departed Long Beach the airplane had previously been operated 2.1 hours since its last refueling to the level of the filler neck 17-gallon indicator tabs. Post crash, the airplane's recording hour meter registered that the pilot had flown for 1.4 hours for a combined total of 3.5 hours since last refueling.

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

fuel exhaustion due to the pilot's inadequate preflight and failure to refuel the airplane prior to takeoff.

Full narrative available

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