NTSB Identification: CEN10LA054
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 19, 2009 in Mineola, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/23/2010
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-181, registration: N3148Q
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

During the first leg of a night cross-country flight the pilot stopped (about 441 nautical miles from his departure airport) and filled the airplane with 46.27 gallons of fuel (fuel capacity, 48 gallons usable). The pilot then proceeded to his destination airport. While en route the pilot told air traffic control that he was "cutting this a little short" and needed to divert to a nearby airport (located about 485 nm from his previous refueling stop). During the descent to the airport, the pilot was unable to activate the landing lights at the airport (published out-of-service), so he changed his intended landing airport to another airport, located about 4 miles north. During the approach to that airport, the airplane collided with trees and impacted terrain just short of the runway. An on-site examination of the airplane revealed only a few ounces of fuel was in the left and right wing fuel tanks, and the engine gasolator was empty. A follow-up inspection of the airplane's engine and propeller indicated that the engine was not rotating at the time of impact with the terrain. The engine and airframe examination found no apparent abnormalities that would have prevented normal operation.

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

A loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion and the pilot's inadequate preflight planning.

Full narrative available

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