On June 9, 1999, about 1010 central daylight time (CDT), a Piper PA-28-181, N983DB, registered to an individual, impacted with the ground during a forced landing near Auburn, Alabama. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The private-rated pilot reported no injuries. The flight had departed from Lakeland, Florida, about 0730 eastern daylight time (0630 CDT).

The flight was at cruise altitude between 1,500 and 3,000 feet when the airplane's engine lost complete power. The pilot switched fuel tanks, but the engine did not respond. He attempted to land in a field, was fast on the approach, went under some wires which surrounded the field, bounced over a road, and struck the ground with the right wing. The wing separated, the airplane cartwheeled, and came to rest right side up.

Several pilots that had been flying in the area, heard the pilot of N983DB call on the Auburn UNICOM frequency and say that he was, "...in distress, he was experiencing engine trouble, and thought he might be out of fuel."

According to the pilot, he flew to Lakeland, Florida, from Vero Beach, Florida, on June 8, 1999, and, "...immediately fueled up at Piedmont Hawthorne Aviation, receiving 13 gallons of AVGAS, for a burn rate of 11.8 gallons per hour...later in the afternoon of June 8, 1999, I visually verified full tanks on both sides, and flew with relatives for a total of .5 hours...this flight was done on the right tank only...with an ending Hobbs reading of 12.9 hours...because of my .5 hour flight the day before, I decided to stop at Auburn...a distance of 344 nautical miles. At about 120 knots per hour average, I calculated that I would need about 2.9 hours of fuel. Adding the .5 hours of flight the night before yielded about 3.4 hours of fuel required. At 12 gallons per hour, that would require 40.8 gallons of fuel, which would leave a reserve of 7.2 gallons (more than 1/2 hour)."

The exact time of departure from Lakeland was not known. The pilot reported it was between 0730 and 0800 EDT. The FAA reported the time was about 0700 EDT. The pilot further stated that he made a restroom stop at Valdosta, Georgia. According to the pilot he was on the ground at Valdosta about 15-20 minutes. The PA-28-181 had a fuel capacity of 50 gallons total fuel, of which 48 gallons was usable.

The pilot stated that the Hobbs meter reading was 12.4 hours when he added 13 gallons of fuel. On August 25, 1999, the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) was told by the pilot that the airplane was at Atlanta Air Salvage, Griffin, Georgia. An employee at Atlanta Air Salvage, at the request of the IIC, read the Hobbs meter, and it was reading 16.2 hours, for a total of 3.8 hours total Hobbs time since the last refueling. Less then a gallon of fuel was found at the crash site. At 3.8 hour and 48 gallons used, the calculated burn rate was 12.63 gallons of fuel per hour. A burn rate of 12.63 gallons per hour, times 3.8 hours, equals 47.99 gallons of fuel. In addition, the IIC requested that Atlanta Air Salvage removed the fuel screen and report on its condition. On August 25, 1999, an employee from Atlanta Air Savage, reported by telephone, that the fuel screen had been removed, and was found in good condition, clean and free of debris.

The FAA examined the airplane's fuel tanks at the crash site, and found about 8 ounces of fuel in the left wing, no fuel was found in the right fuel tank, and there were no signs of spilled fuel at the accident site. The airplane was new, and had been picked up from the Piper factory the day before the accident.

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