SEA05CA082
SEA05CA082

On April 15, 2005, approximately 1730 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA28-140, M8715E, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near McCammon, Idaho. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual. The certificated private pilot and his sole passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal cross-country flight, which was operated in accordance with 14 CFR Part 91, and a flight plan was not filed. The flight departed the Malad City Airport, Malad, Idaho, at 1700, and its destination was the Pocatello Regional Airport, Pocatello, Idaho.

In a written statement, the pilot reported that he had filled both fuel tanks to their maximum capacity (50 total gallons/48 usable gallons) prior to departing Mesquite, Nevada, for his flight to the Malad City Airport, an intermediate fueling stop. The pilot stated that using a conservative fuel burn rate of 10 gallons per hours, he had 4.8 hours of fuel on board prior to departing Mesquite. The pilot reported that his en route flight time to Malad was 3 hours and 35 minutes (3.58 hours), which left him with 1.22 hours of fuel remaining upon arrival. The pilot stated that after he was unable to purchase fuel in Malad, he decided to proceed to Pocatello, Idaho, for fuel, a distance of 65 statute miles. The pilot further stated that the flight to Pocatello would take approximately 30 minutes (.52 hours) flying time, and that according to his calculations he would have 42 minutes of fuel remaining upon his arrival. The pilot reported that approximately 20 minutes into the flight, "...the engine began to cough. I switched tanks and the plane immediately began to run normal. We were 18 statute miles from Pocatello at that point." The pilot further reported that as he was about to proceed to an alternate airport when the second tank ran dry. The pilot related, "We spotted a nice two-lane road and headed for it. Upon closer inspection I noticed power-lines along the road and several vehicles going both directions on the road." The pilot stated that he then made a 180-degree turn to avoid hilly terrain and set up to land in an field. The pilot reported that after touching down the airplane bounced once before impacting two small trees, which caused the airplane to swing to the left. The airplane then struck a raised driveway and jumped into the air before hitting ground, shearing off the front and left main landing gear. The pilot stated the airplane subsequently slid on its belly and came to rest upright after sliding through a barbed wire fence.

A Federal Aviation Administration Inspector from the Salt Lake City, Utah, Flight Standards District Office, examined the aircraft and confirmed the lack of fuel in the fuel tanks. The inspector observed a homemade placard above the fuel gage which read, "FUEL GAGES MAY INDICATE AS MUCH AS 2 1/2 GALLONS WHEN TANKS ARE EMPTY". The inspector reported that both wings sustained substantial damage, and that the damage to the propeller was indicative that the engine was not producing power. The pilot reported no anomalies with the airplane prior to the accident, which would have prevented normal operations.


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