NTSB Identification: CHI05LA138.
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Accident occurred Monday, June 13, 2005 in Jefferson City, MO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/03/2006
Aircraft: Mooney M20K, registration: N231HX
Injuries: 1 Serious,1 Uninjured.

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 was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power. The pilot reported that the airplane fuel tanks were filled prior to the flight and that the fuel burn during the flight was between 11 and 11.3 gallons per hour, which agrees with data obtained from the Pilot Operating Handbook (POH). The duration of the flight was about 3 hours and 47 minutes. The POH listed the airplane fuel capacity was 72 gallons of useable fuel. The pilot further stated that he alternated burning fuel from each tank during the flight and that he had noticed that the fuel quantity indication did not agree with what he had expected. He stated that for between 30 and 45 minutes he had been planning for alternate airports due to weather and fuel concerns. While burning fuel from the left fuel tank, the engine lost power and the pilot switched to the right fuel tank. The engine re-started and the pilot diverted to an airport about 5 to 6 miles away. The pilot stated that he circled to lose altitude and executed an approach to the runway. He stated that when he turned onto final approach he realized that he was too high and executed a go-around. He reported that the engine again lost power as he was turning onto the downwind leg of the traffic pattern. During the off-airport landing the airplane impacted the ground in a wings level attitude with the landing gear extended. The pilot stated that, although he closed the gascolator fuel drain from within the cockpit, he believed that the fuel drain remained open allowing approximately 30 gallons of fuel to be lost during the flight. The preflight checklist procedures specify draining the gascolator prior to the external airplane examination. According to the airplane manufacturer, a leaking gascolator drain should be detectable during the external examination.

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

The pilot's delay in diverting to an alternate destination due to low fuel indications which led to the fuel exhaustion, loss of engine power and the subsequent forced landing. Factors were the pilot's improper preflight inspection which resulted in an undetected fuel drain leak and his misjudged glidepath during the precautionary landing which led to a go-around and the subsequent fuel exhaustion.

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