NTSB Identification: WPR09CA305
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, June 22, 2009 in McCall, ID
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/10/2009
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M, registration: N12463
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, who had flown into a backcountry airstrip with minimal fuel in order to reduce the airplane's takeoff weight, departed that airstrip for a destination that was reporting overcast clouds. He made the decision to do so because he heard pilots had reported some openings in the overcast layer that might allow him to descend through the clouds as he neared his destination. When he got near the destination, he discovered that there was no way through the overcast so he returned to the backcountry airstrip. The next day he decided to follow a group of pilots to the same planned destination, but by another route that he was not familiar with. When the other pilots started their engines, the accident pilot realized that he had not yet dipped his fuel tanks to measure fuel quantity, and that the ladder that he needed to perform that function was under camping gear in the airplane. Therefore, so as not to get separated from the pilots he was going to follow en route, he elected to not sump the tanks prior to departure. As he approached the destination airport, one fuel gauge read empty, and the other read one-quarter, but its needle had stopped moving/bouncing, which the pilot thought was a, "…bad sign." Soon thereafter the engine lost all power, and although the pilot tried to stretch the glide to the destination airport, he ultimately had to make a forced landing in what appeared to be an open field. During the landing roll, the airplane impacted some cement barrier blocks and collided with a steel fence gate. The pilot reported no mechanical failures or malfunctions at the time of the accident. Postaccident inspection found no usable fuel remaining in the airplane's fuel system.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: A total loss of engine power during descent due to fuel exhaustion as a result of the pilot's failure to determine the fuel quantity prior to departure. Full narrative available
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