On January 23, 1997, at 1740 central standard time, a Piper PA-28-140, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Sulphur, Oklahoma. The airplane was owned by the DDR Corporation of Wilmington, Delaware, and being operated by Vista Helicopters Inc., of Davis, Oklahoma, on a Title 14 CFR Part 91 flight. The student pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the solo instructional flight for which a flight plan was not filed. The local flight originated from the Crazy Horse Municipal Airport, near Davis, Oklahoma, at 1345.

According to law enforcement personnel that responded to the accident, the pilot stated that he had flown to the Sulphur Municipal Airport to practice a landing and a takeoff prior to returning to Davis, where the pilot anticipated a crosswind landing. The pilot reported that the airplane was on initial takeoff climb from runway 17, at an estimated altitude between 400 and 500 feet AGL, when the engine "coughed a couple of times and quit." The pilot further stated that he switched the fuel selector to the left tank, but due to his low altitude the power to the engine was not restored in time to abandon the forced landing.

The airplane landed in a confined field approximately one mile west of the airport. Post accident examination of the wreckage by the operator revealed that both wings and the engine firewall sustained structural damage. The left main gear and the nose landing gear had collapsed.

The 1972 model airplane was equipped with a checklist. The before takeoff checklist calls for the fuel selector to be in the fullest tank position.

Examination of the wreckage by the FAA inspector and the operator revealed that the carburetor bowl and the right wing tank were found to be empty. The left tank contained approximately 18 to 20 gallons of fuel.

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