On July 19, 1997, at 0010 central daylight time, a Beech C35 airplane, N1878D, owned and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near Chickasha, Oklahoma. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local night flight, and a flight plan was not filed. The private pilot, sole occupant, sustained minor injuries.

The pilot reported to the FAA inspector that he had been practicing night landings at the Chickasha Municipal Airport. The airplane's engine lost power while in the traffic pattern, and the pilot initiated a forced landing. During the landing roll, the aircraft struck a fence and crossed a ditch collapsing the nose landing gear. The aircraft came to rest inverted approximately one half mile north of runway 17. The pilot further reported that he had selected the left fuel tank, and "thinks the engine quit because there was no fuel left in the left fuel tank."

Examination of the airplane by the FAA inspector revealed that the airplane's nose landing gear was separated, and both propeller blades were bent aft. The right wing's tip fuel tank was ruptured, and the right wing's leading edge was damaged just inboard of the tip tank. The fuselage forward of the cabin was damaged.

Examination of the fuel system revealed that there was no fuel in the left wing's main fuel tank and tip tank. The fuel selector was selecting the left tank, and there was no evidence of fuel spillage. The right wing's main fuel tank contained fuel, and fuel was leaking from its filler cap. The Pilot's Operating Handbook for the aircraft states in Section IV, Normal Procedures, page 4-10, Before Landing, "Fuel Selector Valve - SELECT MAIN TANK MORE NEARLY FULL."

The aircraft's last annual inspection was accomplished by Quin-Tech Aviation, Inc., located at the Wiley Post Airport, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on June 6, 1997.

The pilot was given a Pilot/Operator Accident Report, NTSB Form 6120.1/2 by the FAA inspector. The pilot was directed to complete the form and return it to the NTSB investigator-in-charge. Attempts to contact the pilot and to obtain a completed Pilot/Operator Accident Report were unsuccessful.

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