On February 8, 1999, at 1910 central standard time, a Beech 35, N5540D, operated by a private pilot had the nose gear collapse during an off airport forced landing following a loss of engine power. The pilot received minor injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The airplane had departed from the Lincoln Municipal Airport just prior to the accident and was en route to Wahoo, Nebraska.

The pilot reported that he had preflighted the airplane two days prior to the accident in preparation for a flight. He reported that at this time the left main tank was approximately 80% full and the right main and auxiliary tanks were at least 3/4 full. He did not end up flying that day and the airplane was put back in the hangar.

The pilot stated that on the day of the accident, he intended to fly the airplane to the Lincoln Municipal Airport to pick up maps for an upcoming trip. He stated that since the airplane was in a hangar since his last preflight and no one else had flown it, he did not perform another preflight. He stated that he did notice the airplane was syphoning fuel from the overflow vent, but that it had stopped prior to him starting the engine. The pilot reported the 15 to 20 minute flight to Lincoln was uneventful and that during his GUMPS check prior to landing the fuel quantity indicator was in the "green."

He stated that he once again did not preflight the airplane prior to departing Lincoln. He stated that after taxiing he was cleared for takeoff. Upon reaching an altitude of 2,000 to 2,500 feet the engine lost power. He stated he had performed the takeoff on the left main tank and once the engine lost power he switched to the auxiliary tanks. He was unable to get the engine restarted and he switched back to the left main fuel tank. He stated he did not use the wobble pump. The pilot stated that he was not going to make it back to the airport so he elected to land on a nearby golf course. The nose gear collapsed during the landing roll resulting in damage to the firewall.

Post accident inspection of the airplane was conducted by a Federal Aviation Administration Inspector from the Lincoln, Nebraska Flight Standards District Office. The inspection revealed the left main fuel tank was empty. The right main and auxiliary tanks were down approximately one inch from the filler caps. The pilot had stated that the fuel quantity indicator would occasionally stick in the yellow area. A battery was reconnected to the airplane after the accident and the fuel quantity indicator was checked. The indicator showed the left main tank to be empty.

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