NTSB Identification: WPR09CA467
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, September 27, 2009 in Tillamook, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/29/2009
Aircraft: BEECH 35-C33, registration: N90LP
Injuries: 4 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 pilot stated during the preflight, he checked the fuel gages which indicated 12 gallons in the left wing and 18 gallons in the right wing. The right wing tank indicated just below half a tank. The pilot stated that "it is not possible to visually gauge the fuel quantity once the amount is below 30 gallons per tank," and that it is difficult to know exactly how much fuel is in the airplane. About 24 minutes after takeoff the pilot reported that the engine experienced initial indications of low fuel while operating from the left fuel tank. The pilot then switched to the right fuel tank. Instead of proceeding to his destination, 35 miles away, the pilot diverted to a closer airport, 15 miles away. After 5 minutes, the engine again demonstrated conditions consistent with low fuel. Not believing that he could make the runway, the pilot decided to make a precautionary landing in a cattle pasture about 1 mile from the airport. During the landing, the right main landing gear collapsed and the right wing was structurally damaged. Post-accident inspection of the fuel system found that both fuel tanks were nearly empty of fuel. Inspection of the right fuel gage indicated about 1/3, when in fact the fuel tank was empty.

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

A loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion as a result of the pilot's failure to visually verify that sufficient fuel was on board prior to flight. Contributing to the accident was a malfunctioning fuel gage.

Full narrative available

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