FTW99LA250
FTW99LA250

On August 9, 1999, at 1756 central daylight time, a Cessna 177 airplane, N29317, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a total loss of engine power near Austin, Texas. The airplane was registered to a private individual and operated by Travland Aero as Metro One. The commercial pilot and his one passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 business flight. The local flight originated from the Austin Bergstrom International Airport, Austin, Texas, at 1600.

According to the pilot, the purpose of the flight was to perform aerial observation of traffic for local news stations. The pilot stated that prior to the first of the two flights scheduled for the day, he confirmed that the left wing fuel tank was full by observing that the overflow vent for the fuel tank was dripping fuel. He then placed a finger in the right wing fuel tank to determine the fuel level. He "barely shook the wing and felt and saw a wet finger." He then flew the first flight, a morning traffic observation flight of 1.9 hours duration.

He returned to the airport at 1600 the same day for the second flight. He confirmed by referencing the hour meter that the airplane had not been flown since the morning flight, although he did not visually check the amount of fuel in the tanks. He noted that the fuel quantity indicators in the cockpit indicated one half for the left and right fuel tanks, and the flight departed. At 1745, the engine began to "run rough." He switched the fuel tank selector from the "RIGHT TANK" to the "BOTH" position. The engine ran "smoothly" for approximately 10 minutes. The airplane was at 1,100 feet when the engine "spit and sputtered" and lost total power. During the ensuing forced landing, the airplane touched down and became airborne a second time. The airplane traveled an additional 70 feet, contacted a tree (3 inches in diameter), and came to a stop upright. The pilot stated during a telephone conversation with an NTSB investigator that the airplane "ran out of fuel."

According to the FAA inspector who examined the airplane, the engine firewall was wrinkled and the nose landing gear collapsed. He added that a visual inspection of the fuel tanks revealed that no fuel was present in either of the two wing fuel tanks.

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