On December 9, 2001, about 1645 central standard time, a Piper PA-38-112, N2492K, piloted by a private pilot, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near O'Neill, Nebraska. The pilot was attempting to land on a gravel road when the airplane went into a ditch. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was not on a flight plan and was operating in visual meteorological conditions. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, was not injured. The flight originated from the Crystal Airport, Minneapolis, Minnesota, at an undetermined time.

The pilot reported in a written statement that he departed the Crystal Airport, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and was en route to the O'Neill Municipal-John L. Baker Airport (ONL), O'Neill, Nebraska for a fuel stop. The pilot's final destination was the Centennial Airport, Littleton, Colorado. He said that when he was about 12 miles northeast of ONL the engine began to "sputter" and he switched the fuel selector from the right fuel tank to the left fuel tank. He said that the left tank selection , "...resulted in further trouble with engine performance." He said that he selected a road to land on and was landing to the south. He said that the landing was hard and the left main wheel, "...caught the edge of the roadside resulting in the plane being pulled down into the left ditch and over onto its nose." He said that the road was narrow.

A postaccident examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed only unusable fuel within the tanks. No other anomalies were found with respect to the airplane or its systems that could be associated with a pre-impact condition.

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