On August 31, 2002, approximately 1730 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140 single-engine airplane, N3961K, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near Price, Texas. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot. The private pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The cross-country flight originated from the Canton-Hackney Airport, Canton, Texas, approximately 1700, and was destined for the Gregg County Airport, Longview, Texas.

According to the pilot, the airplane was in cruise flight, approximately 2,500 feet, when he retarded the throttle and initiated a descent to deviate around a cloud. Once clear of the cloud, the pilot advanced the throttle and initiated a climb back to the cruise altitude; however, power did not develop and gradually decreased. He increased the throttle to obtain full power; however, the maximum attained rpm was 1400-1500, and the engine power continued to decrease. The pilot attempted to restart the engine; however, was unsuccessful and initiated a forced landing to a field. During the forced landing, the propeller blades were bent, the right wing separated at the wing root, the nose landing gear and right main landing gear separated, and the fuselage was wrinkled. The pilot did not recall the position of the cockpit fuel selector at the time of the loss of engine power.

The temperature and dew point were plotted on a carburetor icing probability chart for light aircraft. The results revealed that the conditions were favorable for the formation of serious induction icing at a glide power setting.

According to an FAA inspector, who examined the airplane, the left wing fuel tank contained 12 gallons of fuel and the right wing fuel tank was compromised during the impact. The cockpit fuel selector placard was mounted upside-down; therefore it provided an incorrect reading to the pilot. The cockpit fuel selector was found in the OFF position; however, the placard that was installed at the time of the accident would have indicated that the selected fuel tank was the LEFT tank.

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