On February 24, 1997, at 1205 eastern standard time, a Hughes 369HS, N340EM, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Marion, Ohio. The certificated private pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed. The business flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated from Port Huron, Michigan, destined for Urbana, Ohio.

According to the pilot, about 1 1/2 hours into the flight, and about 10 miles northeast of his destination, the engine lost power. He entered autorotation, but the helicopter touched down hard, the left skid separated, the right front skid separated, and the helicopter rolled over on the left side.

The pilot said he topped off the fuel tank 9 days before the accident, and he had flown 15 minutes that day. On the day of the accident, he purchased an additional 5 gallons. The total fuel capacity of the fuel tank was 64 gallons, of which 63.4 gallons was useable.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration Inspector, examination of the fuel system did not reveal any air leaks. The helicopter was leveled and electrical power was applied. When the power was applied, the low fuel light was illuminated, and using the helicopter fuel boost pump, 5 3/4 gallons were collected in a container before the fuel flow stopped.

According to the helicopter flight manual, at low fuel level, sideslip may cause the fuel tanks outlet to become uncovered causing fuel starvation. Examination of the helicopter and engine did not reveal any abnormalities that would have precluded operation.

A review of the pilot's log book revealed that he was not helicopter rated, but had a helicopter solo endorsement that expired about 60 days prior to the accident.

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