DEN00LA018
DEN00LA018

On November 12, 1999, approximately 1100 mountain standard time, a Cessna 172N, N5225D, owned and operated by Smith and Barlow Enterprises, Inc., and doing business as Advantage Aviation of Provo, Utah, was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain during a forced landing 8 miles south of Rawlins, Wyoming. The private pilot and three passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a VFR flight plan had been filed for the personal flight being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated at Provo approximately 0810.

The airplane was en route to Rapid City, South Dakota. Rawlins was to be the first refueling stop. The pilot told an FAA inspector that prior to his departure, he drained "three inches" of fuel from the fuel tanks because he would be carrying three passengers and their luggage and he did not want to exceed the airplane's maximum gross weight of 2,550 pounds. When the airplane was 15 miles southwest of Rawlins, the pilot initiated a descent. Shortly thereafter, the engine lost power. The pilot made a forced landing in a rough, sagebrush covered field 8 miles south of the Rawlins Airport, incurring damage to the wings and fuselage. The pilot indicated, and examination of the airplane confirmed, that fuel exhaustion was the reason the engine lost power.

In his accident report, the pilot said he "received incorrect information about the fuel tanks [that led him] to believe that [he] had more gas than the tanks held." He said there was only enough fuel for about 2.9 hours. In a statement he gave the airplane insurance company, the pilot said he thought the airplane's useable fuel was 50 gallons, not 38 gallons. According to the Cessna 172 Pilot's Operating Handbook, the standard and long range fuel tank capacity is 43 and 54 gallons, respectively. Useable fuel is 40 and 50 gallons, respectively. According to the pilot's accident report, he had 88 hours total flying time, of which 6 hours were in the Cessna 172.

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