On December 1, 1998, at 1650 eastern standard time, a Piper PA- 28-181, N36700, operated by a private pilot collided with the terrain during an off airport forced landing 2 miles east of the Jewett Airport, Mason, Michigan. The pilot reported the forced landing was a result of a loss of engine power. The pilot was not injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions. The flight originated from Muskegon, Michigan.

The pilot departed Mason, Michigan, at 1445 est and flew to Muskegon, Michigan, where he made a touch and go landing prior to heading back to Mason. The pilot reported that while at 1,800 feet, on base leg for landing on runway 27 at the Jewett Airport, the engine lost power. The pilot landed the airplane in an open field during which time the right main landing gear collapsed.

Post accident inspection of the airplane revealed the right fuel tank was empty and the left fuel tank was full. The airplane had been refueled prior to departing Mason, Michigan. The hobbs time at departure was 3260.5 and the hobbs time noted at the accident site was 3262.5. Each fuel tank holds 24 gallons of usable fuel. According to an Inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Belleville, Michigan, Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), this airplane uses approximately 10.5 gallons per hour. The airplane was removed from the accident site and the engine was started using the left fuel tank. He reported, "Although high power was not attempted, the engine ran satisfactorily."

In a written statement to the FAA, the pilot stated, "I believe that the right fuel tank was not switched in a timely manner which led to the fuel starvation to the engine and the eventual forced landing."

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