On August 17, 2002, at 1005 central daylight time, a Bellanca BL-17-30A, sustained substantial damage when it hit a post during a forced landing to a field located 1.5 miles from Ohiawa, Nebraska, after a loss of engine power. The pilot was not injured. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight departed Beatrice, Nebraska, at 0950 and was en route to Hastings, Nebraska. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed.

The pilot reported that when he refueled the airplane prior to the accident flight, he had requested that the lineman top off the fuel tanks. He did not visually check the left fuel tank, but he had checked the right fuel tank. He reported the fuel selector was positioned on the left fuel tank during the flight. He reported the engine suddenly quit. He could not get the engine restarted and he did a forced landing to a cornfield. An inspection of the fuel tanks revealed the left fuel tank was dry and the right fuel tank was full.

The pilot reported, "I came to recall that my normal starting procedure is to have the boost pump on. The engine does not start without it. Also after normal shut-off by pulling the mixture to the full lean position, the engine will not start in < 15 seconds even after priming to normal boost pump pressures and the boost pump on while cranking... .This entire evolution lasted an estimated 60-90 seconds. This may not have allowed sufficient time for fuel flow to [be] re-established through completely dry fuel lines and pumps."
The pilot stated the following in the NTSB Form 6120.1/2 form under Owner/Operator Safety Recommendation: "Visually check all fuel tank levels on preflight. Do Not assume flight line people followed your requests."

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