On May 10, 1996, about 1730 eastern daylight time, a Piper J3C-65, N22946, was substantially damaged when it nosed over during a precautionary landing near Kittanning, Pennsylvania. The commercial pilot, sole occupant, was not injured. The flight departed Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, about 1430, destined for Freeport, Pennsylvania. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight. No flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

In a statement submitted by the pilot, he stated that during the flight:

. . .Upon reaching the Allegheny River, my fuel reserve was low, I steered North believing the airport was just north of my present position. At about 10 to 15 miles further north, I identified a prominent bend in the river. Feeling that my fuel reserve was now in imminent danger of expiring and since I carried a six gallon reserve on board in case an off airport fuel stop was required, I searched for a suitable landing site for a precautionary landing. The general terrain was rolling and at times mountainous. I located a reclaimed strip mine. . . .

I planned a final approach course of about 250 degrees. I encountered strong ridge currents at about 1.3 VSO and the aircraft weathervaned to a more southerly heading. The landing site still looked favorable. At about 1.1 VSO, a narrow ditch was apparent, I added power to overfly the fault with the intent of landing on the upslope of a small hill. When the wheels contacted the ground, the left gear collapsed causing the left wing tip to strike the ground. The prop [propeller] contacted the ground and the aircraft slowly inverted, damaging the rudder.

Neither the National Transportation Safety Board nor Federal Aviation Administration were notified of the accident prior to the airplanes removal from the accident site.

The pilot had a total flight experience of 1230 hours, of which 50 were in the this make and model. A review of the maintenance log books revealed that the last annual inspection was in September, 1995.

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