ANC01LA054
ANC01LA054

On May 5, 2001, about 1255 Alaska daylight time, a Cessna 172 airplane, N5530T, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing at Soldotna, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country personal flight when the accident occurred. The airplane was operated by the pilot. The private certificated pilot received serious injuries, and the sole passenger received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight departed from a roadway in Cantwell, Alaska, about 1030.

A Soldotna Police Department officer reported that he responded to the accident scene. He said the pilot declared an emergency, reporting that the airplane engine lost power at 1,500 feet, about 4 miles from Soldotna. The police officer interviewed witnesses who described the airplane as approaching runway 7U, an ultralight airstrip, without any sound of engine power. The ultralight strip was being used for a bus driver competition, and was occupied by vehicles and pedestrians. The accident airplane appeared to descend in a steep nose down attitude into soft terrain and nose over. The airplane received damage to the nose gear, right wing, and fuselage. An examination of the airplane by a police officer revealed no fuel in the left fuel tank, and a small amount of fuel in the right fuel tank. The fuel selector was found positioned on the left tank.

A pilot/witness was flying in the area of the Soldotna airport, and reported to the Soldotna Police department that he observed the accident airplane approaching the airport. The witness heard the accident pilot broadcast on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) stating the engine had failed. The witness also heard a stall warning horn over the CTAF for a protracted amount of time.

In a telephone interview with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) on May 16, 2001, the pilot reported that he initially departed Fairbanks on May 4, 2001, with full fuel tanks of 36 gallons. He encountered poor weather conditions in the area of Cantwell, and landed on a roadway near Chulitna Lodge. The following day, he departed from the road without adding fuel, and headed for Soldotna. As the flight approached Soldotna, the engine lost power, and the pilot headed for the ultralight landing strip. He saw that the runway surface was occupied and began a turn to the left. About 20 feet above the ground, the airplane stalled and descended to the ground in a nose down attitude. The pilot said he always leaves the fuel tank selector on "BOTH" but the selector must have inadvertently been moved during the flight. During the emergency, the pilot said he did not check the position of the fuel selector.

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