On July 26, 1999, at 2048 central daylight time (cdt), a Cessna 182D, N8878X, collided with the terrain during a forced landing in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, following a total loss of engine power. The private pilot received a minor injury and a pilot rated passenger was not injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The flight departed from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, at 1720 cdt. The flight was originally destined for the EAA Convention at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, but had missed the 2030 cdt arrival cut-off and was attempting to land at the Fond Du Lac Municipal Airport when the accident occurred.

The pilot reported they departed McComb, Mississippi, at 1330 cdt. At 1650 cdt, they arrived at Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where the airplane was topped off with 50 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel. The passenger, who was a rated pilot, stated that he supervised the refueling and verified that the tanks were full. They departed Cape Girardeau at 1720 cdt with the intention of landing at Oshkosh. The pilot reported that upon reaching the town of Ripon, northwest of Fond Du Lac, they were notified that Oshkosh was closed. The pilot stated they decided to land at Fond Du Lac, so he turned to the east, contacted the Fond Du Lac tower, and was cleared to land on runway 18.

The pilot stated that while on final approach at 1,000 feet above the ground, the engine sputtered and quit. He reported he had three fields to chose from in which to land. He chose the closest field. At the last minute, he noticed powerlines in the field. He stated he was not going to be able to clear the powerlines, so he turned the airplane to the west to land in another field. The pilot reported that just prior to touching down he applied full flaps.

The forced landing was made in a soy bean field which was approximately 2,000 feet square and soft due to recent rains. The initial point of impact was 70 feet prior to a hedgerow which bordered the west edge of the field. The airplane came to rest 15 feet prior to the hedgerow. The nose gear separated from the airplane and was found near the initial impact point. The main landing gear were spread. Wrinkles were present along both sides of the fuselage and empennage. The lower engine cowling was crushed as was the lower half of the firewall. Inspection of the airplane revealed no fuel in either of the fuel tanks. Battery power was applied to the airplane and both fuel gauges indicated empty.

The pilot reported they used 14 gallons per hour for the first leg of the flight. He stated their calculations indicated they should have had at least 45 minutes of fuel remaining upon reaching Oshkosh. The pilot stated that he did not lean the mixture during the flight and their ground speed had decreased during the last portion of the flight. The pilot reported that just prior to the loss of power the right fuel gauge was indicating a half tank of fuel remained and the left fuel gauge was indicating "low, but not empty." The pilot stated he flew with the fuel selector selected to "both."

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