LAX00LA257
LAX00LA257

On July 9, 2000, at 1530 Pacific daylight time, an experimental Interavia E-3 single engine airplane, N4426X, was substantially damaged during a forced landing after losing engine power while maneuvering near Watsonville, California. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant, received minor injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a personal flight under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 when the accident occurred. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and no flight plan had been filed. The local flight originated from the Watsonville Municipal Airport approximately 30 minutes prior to the accident.

According to the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB form 6120.1/2) submitted by the pilot, he "checked and measured" the gas in the fuel tanks after performing maintenance on the airplane. He calculated that he had 20 gallons of fuel on board, or 40 minutes of endurance at 100 percent power or 1 hour of endurance at 70 percent power. He started the engine at 1450 and departed at 1500. He reported that he set the power at 70 percent for the flight. While he was "making a long sweeping turn back to the airport at 1530, [the] engine quit." The pilot checked the fuel gauges and reported that they indicated 5 gallons in each fuel tank. He pumped the fuel pump and the engine started, ran for approximately 30 seconds, and lost power again. The pilot reported that he could not restart the engine. He elected to land in a cow pasture on the side of mountainous terrain. While attempting to land over a fence and trees, the "left wing stalled and touched down, slewing the plane off course." The left main landing gear separated from the left wing and the wing sustained structural damage.

In the NTSB form 6120.1/2, under the section titled, "Recommendation (How Could This Accident Have Been Prevented)," the pilot wrote, "operate by fuel time, not gauges."

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