On June 9, 1996, about 0856 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-180, N9640J, registered to a private individual, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Jasper, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and a VFR flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The private-rated pilot was not injured and one passenger sustained minor injuries. The flight originated about 0732 from the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, Lakeland, Florida.

The accident flight was the last leg of a 5-leg cross country flight and before departure from Lakeland, 15 gallons of fuel were added to the fuel tanks. The pilot initially stated that after departure during cruise flight at 3,000 feet mean sea level at 75 percent power, west of the Gainesville Regional Airport, the engine experienced a partial loss of power and he repositioned the fuel selector and the engine restarted. He then noted an odor of fuel but continued the flight toward the destination. At 0852, the pilot advised the Valdosta Air Traffic Control Tower controller of an engine failure and the flight was "low on fuel." At 0854, the pilot advised the controller that the flight was going down. The pilot performed a forced landing in a corn field. He further stated that during the fuel consumption calculations he used 8 gallons per hour.

Examination of the airplane at the accident site revealed that the left and right fuel tanks were not breached and found to contain 12 ounces and 55 ounces of fuel respectively. The gascolator was drained and found to contain about 3 tablespoons of fuel. The fuel line from the gascolator to the carburetor was disconnected and found to contain only drops of fuel. The fuel selector was positioned to the left fuel tank and there was no evidence of staining aft of either wing fuel tank cap. Fuel staining was noted on the bottom of the left wing fuel tank skin.

Examination of the airplane after recovery by a FAA certified mechanic with inspection authorization revealed no evidence of leakage from the fuel lines.

Review of the airplane records revealed that the airplane had been operated for a total of 6.9 hours according to a Hobbs meter since the airplane was rented. The fuel tanks were reportedly full when the airplane was rented.

The pilot's operating handbook indicates that on the accident flight the fuel consumption is 10 gallons per hour.

Review of the pilot's logbook revealed that he performed a total of six touch-and-go landings on the flight to Punta Gorda, and three touch-and-go landings on the flight from there to Lakeland earlier that morning. His logbook also indicates that he flew the airplane a total of 3.8 hours excluding the accident flight.

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