On February 25, 1995, at 2358 mountain standard time, a Piper PA- 24-250, N5613P, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Carlsbad, New Mexico. The commercial pilot sustained minor injuries. The private pilot rated passenger was not injured. Dark night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal cross-country flight.

Prior to departing Texarkana, Arkansas, for Carlsbad, the pilot refueled the airplane and calculated an estimated time en route of 4.1 hours with a total of 5.3 hours of fuel on board. These figures are consistent with the performance charts found in the Piper PA-24 Owner's Handbook. The pilot stated that he "noted [fuel] gauges reading lower than normal north of Andrews, Texas" and "was planning a fuel stop in Hobbs if necessary." At this time he checked the weather at Hobbs and found that it was "IFR" with a thunderstorm in progress. The pilot "thought it best to continue to Carlsbad as my calculations showed we could make it with fuel to spare."

About 10 miles northeast of Carlsbad, approximately four hours into the flight, the engine lost power. After attempting unsuccessfully to restart the engine, the pilot tried to identify a local highway to land on, "but as it was almost midnight local time, there was no traffic on the road" and he was unable to see it. He then "aimed for a dark area" and landed the airplane gear up in a field. Damage to the airplane included deformation of the lower firewall. The pilot examined the gascolator and found no fuel in the bowl. He "concluded that we had a leak [in the quick drain] after the fuel was checked in Texarkana and it continued to leak for the entire trip, causing at least a 12-gallon loss of fuel."

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