On June 26, 2002, at 1127 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 180, N2443C, piloted by a commercial pilot, was substantially damaged when it struck a tree during a forced landing on a road, 5 miles east of the Tucumcari Municipal Airport (TCC), Tucumcari, New Mexico. The pilot reported no injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the personal flight that was being conducted under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The cross-country flight originated at Ozark, Arkansas, at 0915 central daylight time, and was en route to Tucumcari.

The pilot reported that during his cockpit preflight checks, he neglected to place the fuel selector switch on "both." The pilot said that after approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes, he began a descent for landing at TCC, and "pulled the prop RPM back slightly." The pilot said, "The instant I reduced the RPM the engine began to surge ..." The pilot said he became fixated on the propeller governor as the problem. "When I returned to cruise RPM, it smoothed out for a moment and then began surging again and then stopped producing power." The pilot said he was about 5 miles from the airport. He stated that he immediately picked out a dirt road to land on. The pilot said, "Again, I failed to use the checklist." The pilot said that he was clear of all fences and obstacles when he touched the airplane down on the road, but during rollout the left wing struck a small tree, which caused the airplane to swerve and subsequently impact into a ditch. The pilot reported the fuel selector was positioned to the right tank.

An examination of the airplane revealed the main landing gear were broken aft and crushed upward into the airplane's cabin. There was also damage to the propeller, engine cowling, forward fuselage, and to the airplane's left wing tip. Flight control continuity was confirmed. An examination of the airplane's fuel system showed fuel in the left tank. The right tank was empty. At the accident site, the fuel selector was observed in the "both" position. An examination of the engine, engine controls, and other airplane systems revealed no anomalies.

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