NTSB Identification: LAX05CA301.
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Accident occurred Saturday, September 17, 2005 in Petaluma, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/31/2006
Aircraft: Piper PA 28-181, registration: N8103X
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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 airplane collided with a fence during a forced landing following a loss of engine power. The pilot reported that he flew on the left fuel tank for start-up, taxi, and takeoff. After reaching his cruise altitude of 8,500 feet, he switched to the right fuel tank approximately 45 minutes into the flight. When the right fuel gauge was indicating "zero," the pilot switched back to the left fuel tank while making stair step descents to his final destination. About 4 miles north of the accident location and 18 miles south of his destination, the engine began sputtering and he switched the fuel selector to the right tank and turned on the electric fuel pump. The engine started to run normally, but the fuel indicator on the left tank was reading over 5 gallons and the right tank was indicating zero gallons. He immediately reversed course toward an airport he had just overflown and planned to land on runway 11. Due to a departing airplane on runway 29, the pilot maneuvered to land on runway 29 and entered the downwind leg of the traffic pattern. As he entered downwind, the engine began sputtering again and then lost power. The pilot attempted to land on runway 29 and made s-turns to dissipate the excessive altitude in order to make the runway. Prior to touching down, the pilot extended two notches of flaps. Upon touchdown, he applied the brakes but the airplane overran the runway, went through a fence, and came to rest on a golf course. The airport manager immediately responded to the accident site and found that there was no fuel in the fuel tanks or on the ground. About 1 ounce of clean fuel was found in the gascolator. Using the fuel flow for 75 percent best power from the performance charts in the aircraft flight manual for the trip elapsed time, including the allowances for takeoff and climb fuel burn, yields a total fuel consumption of 49.25 gallons. The airplane's usable fuel is 48 gallons.

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

a loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion.

Full narrative available

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