NTSB Identification: ANC08LA085
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, July 03, 2008 in McCarthy, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/06/2009
Aircraft: CESSNA 185, registration: N80596
Injuries: 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 solo commercial pilot was on a flight in conjunction with a lodge operation under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The pilot said that he ran one main fuel tank dry 10 minutes into the flight and that, after switching fuel tanks, he turned on the auxiliary fuel pump but was unable to restart the engine. During a forced landing on a sandbar, the airplane stalled about 10 feet in the air, landed hard, and nosed over, damaging the wings and fuselage. The pilot said that he had learned the procedure of running a fuel tank dry in-flight from a more experienced pilot and that it was a fairly common operating procedure. He reported that there were no known mechanical problems with the airplane prior to the accident. He wrote that he thought fatigue and unfamiliarity with the airplane may have contributed to the accident. The airplane's Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) states that takeoff and landing should be made with the fuel tank selector valve in the "BOTH" position to prevent inadvertent operation on an empty tank. The POH further describes the procedure if the pilot "desires to completely exhaust a fuel tank quantity in flight." The restart procedure after the engine has quit due to fuel starvation is "immediately switch to a tank containing fuel at the first indication of fuel pressure fluctuation and/or power loss. Then place the right half of the auxiliary fuel pump switch in the "ON" position momentarily (3 to 5 seconds) with the throttle at least 1/2 open. Excessive use of the auxiliary fuel pump and full rich mixture can cause flooding of the engine."

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

The pilot's improper fuel management which resulted in fuel starvation and a loss of engine power during cruise flight. Contributing to the accident was an aerodynamic stall during the emergency landing, the pilot's fatigue, and his unfamiliarity with the airplane.

Full narrative available

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