NTSB Identification: WPR11CA321
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, July 10, 2011 in Cedar City, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/06/2011
Aircraft: LEINEKE WALTER L THORP T-211, registration: N2075U
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 reported that he was ferrying the homebuilt airplane to its new owner when the accident occurred. Having no prior time in the airplane, he flew it around the pattern to familiarize himself with the airplane's controls. The pilot stated that since he was not sure what the fuel burn of the airplane was he made an estimate using a similar aircraft with the same engine. After refueling the airplane to its 24 gallon maximum capacity, the pilot departed for the cross country flight to the destination airport. En route he climbed the airplane to 9,500 feet, leaned the mixture, and set the engine rpm to 2500. He estimated that the engine was using 4 to 4 1/2 gallons per hour, which by his calculations would give him 5 hours of flight time at that altitude. After 3.8 hours of flight, the pilot noticed the fuel gauge read 1/4 of a tank. About 6 minutes later, the engine lost power and the pilot initiated an off-airport landing. During the landing attempt, the airplane impacted a fence, struck the ground with its left wing, and tumbled. The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings and the fuselage. The pilot stated that the fuel gauge acted normally during flight, but remained between 1/8 to 1/4 of a tank even after the airplane ran out of gas. An inspection of the fuel gauge by a mechanic showed that the gauge was functional; however, the mechanic described the type of fuel gauge as typically being difficult to calibrate and that they tend to only read accurately when the tank is full. Examination of the airplane's fuel tanks showed they were empty and the fuel system was intact.

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

The pilot's misjudgment of the fuel consumption, which lead to fuel exhaustion. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's lack of experience in the accident airplane.

Full narrative available

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