On December 26, 2000, about 1645 hours mountain standard time, a Cessna T210N, N4729C, was substantially damaged during an off-airport forced landing at Colorado City, Arizona. The forced landing was precipitated by a loss of engine power during initial climb. The airline transport pilot and three passengers received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight operating under 14 CFR Part 91, and no flight plan was filed. The personal flight was originating at Colorado City as a local area personal scenic flight.

The pilot, who is also a maintenance technician, had just completed an annual inspection and installed an overhauled engine in the airplane. The pilot stated that he had flown the airplane three times for a total of about 2.5 hours.

During takeoff and initial climb, about 400 to 500 feet agl, the engine lost power. The pilot activated the fuel hi-boost pump, which generated brief surges of engine power. He performed a 180-degree turn back towards the airport, but was unable to reach the runway and collided with rocky terrain.

The pilot stated that he visually checked both fuel tanks during the preflight, observing about 1 inch in the left tank and about 1.5 inches in the right tank. He then checked the fuel gages, which showed about half full for each tank. At the time of the accident the fuel selector was on the left tank. The pilot stated that during a postaccident examination he found the left tank was empty. He also reported that after recovering the airplane and applying electrical power the left fuel gauge was stuck at 3/8 full.

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