LAX99LA208
LAX99LA208

On June 4, 1999, at 1613 hours Pacific daylight time, a Culver V, N44549, force landed in a vacant field north of South County Airport, San Martin, California, and encountered soft soil and ground obstructions. The aircraft, owned and operated by the pilot under 14 CFR Part 91, sustained substantial damage. The private pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. The flight originated from Watsonville, California, at 0940, and made an en route stop at Auburn, California. Visual meteorological conditions existed, and no flight plan was filed.

A Federal Aviation Administration inspector from the San Jose, California, Flight Standards District Office, interviewed the pilot. The pilot stated to the inspector that he ran out of fuel while nearing his destination. He reported that he refueled in Watsonville and departed for the South County Airport with a planned stop in Auburn. The pilot did not refuel his aircraft in Auburn. According to the pilot, he was airborne for 5 hours after departing Watsonville when the engine lost power. The pilot said that when he realized he would not have enough fuel to make it to his destination, he maneuvered to make an off field landing in a vacant field.

In a written statement from the pilot, he stated that he departed Watsonville airport with the intent to land at the Quincy airport. As he approached a summit just west of Quincy, he found the ridges to be obscured. He proceeded to land in Auburn, for a short stop, and then departed for a flight back to Watsonville. He noted a slight headwind, and as he crossed the Santa Clara Valley, he found the ridges north of Watsonville to be obscured. He stated, "I spent to much time looking for a way to cross." The pilot altered his course for South County Airport, but ran out of gas 4 miles short of the airport.

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