BFO94LA062
BFO94LA062

On April 9, 1994, at 1621 hours eastern daylight time, N857DG, a Piper PA-28-140, operated by the owner/pilot, was substantially damaged during a forced landing in Gloucester, Virginia. The forced landing was precipitated by a loss of engine power during descent. The certificated private pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed. The local flight departed from Williamsburg, Virginia, and was conducted under 14 CFR 91.

According to the pilot during a telephonic interview, the airplane had been fueled at its home base in Hammonton, New Jersey, several days prior to the accident. Two days prior to the accident, the airplane was flown for about 0.5 hours without being refueled. The flight was a local flight that involved several touch-and-go landings. On the following day, the airplane was flown for about 2.6 hours, from New Jersey to Williamsburg, without being refueled. The airplane was flown for an additional 1.4 hours during the accident flight, which occurred one day later, without being refueled. The accident flight was a local flight from Williamsburg.

The pilot stated that he was returning to land at the Williamsburg Airport when the engine suddenly began to "sputter." The engine could not provide enough power for the airplane to land at the airport, so the pilot elected to land in a field. During the forced landing, the airplane struck a tree stump and a ditch and was substantially damaged.

The wreckage was examined at the accident site by an FAA aviation safety inspector. According to the inspector, the left wing separated and the airplane nosed over. The left wing fuel tank was not compromised and no fuel was found in it. The right wing fuel tank was punctured and had about one gallon of fuel in it. The engine was then removed and examined in detail by the another FAA aviation safety inspector at Rick Aviation in Newport News, Virginia, on May 26, 1994. According to the inspector, the examination did not reveal any evidence of pre-impact mechanical deficiencies. No evidence of fuel was found in the carburetor float bowl or fuel pump.

According to the pilot's account of the flight time since the last refueling, the airplane had flown a total of at least 4.5 hours. The airplane's fuel capacity was 50 gallons, held in two 25-gallon wing tanks. According to the aircraft operating handbook, 48 gallons are usable. The pilot stated that he checked the fuel visually prior to each flight, but was unable to determine exactly how much fuel remained in each tank.

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