LAX95LA224
LAX95LA224

On June 25, 1995, at 2010 hours mountain standard time, a Cessna 180, N2362C, made a forced landing 12 miles southeast of Chandler, Arizona. The aircraft sustained substantial damage and the pilot received minor injuries. The aircraft was owned and operated by the pilot and was on a solo cross-country flight when the accident occurred. The flight originated from Falcon Field Airport, Mesa, Arizona, at 1847 on the day of the accident. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan had been filed for the return leg.

The pilot reported that he was flying at 8,500 feet west of Coolidge, Arizona, when he noticed that the left fuel gauge was lower than normal. He began an approach toward his destination and had reached a position near the east side of the San Tan mountains at 5,000 feet, when he noticed the right fuel gauge begin to drop off suddenly and the left gauge appearing almost empty.

The pilot contacted Williams Gateway Airport and reported that he was low on fuel. About that time, the engine began to lose power. The pilot declared an emergency, but was unable to reach the airport. The engine quit 4 miles from the airport, and the aircraft collided with some utility lines while attempting a forced landing on a hard-surfaced two-lane road.

According to sun and moon information, the end of civil twilight was 2012 on the day of the accident. The moon was 24.4 degrees below the horizon.

During recovery, retrieval personnel reported that they drained approximately 2 cups of brownish-colored fuel from each main tank. The pilot said he did not use a calibrated dipstick to verify the quantity in the aircraft tanks. The pilot stated that he had visually verified approximately 30 gallons of fuel onboard prior to departure from Falcon Field. Based on his fuel consumption estimate of 11 gph and his estimate of fuel onboard at departure, he believed that he had sufficient fuel for a 2.7-hour flight.

The pilot attributed the accident to excessive fuel consumption for unknown reasons. A review of fuel receipts revealed that the pilot was not in the habit of topping off his fuel tanks, but rather added fuel based on a combination of his estimated fuel consumption rate and flight time.

A postaccident examination by FAA airworthiness inspectors failed to disclose any anomalies in the fuel system.

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