SEA06CA032
SEA06CA032

On December 24, 2005, approximately 1800 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-28-151 single-engine airplane, N5695V, was destroyed after impacting terrain following a total loss of engine power near Emmett, Idaho. The private pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, was not injured. The personal cross-country round robin flight was being operated in accordance with 14 CFR Part 91 regulations. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and a flight plan was not filed. The flight departed the Joseph State Airport (4S3), Joseph, Oregon, about 1630, with the destination being the Caldwell Industrial Airport (EUL), Caldwell, Idaho.

In a written statement submitted to the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC), the pilot reported that on the first leg of the round robin flight, the left tank [fuel] gage indicated 12 gallons and the right tank [fuel] gage 18 gallons. The pilot stated that this flight took about 2 hours and 30 minutes, and with the airplane burning 9 gallons per hour (gph) he thought he had enough fuel to make the flight. The pilot reported that he departed EUL on the right tank, and about three-fourths of the way to 4S3 he switched to the left tank. After landing at 4S3 and prior to departing for EUL, a check of the weather indicated fog was moving into the EUL area, while Boise, 18 nautical miles to the east, was reporting visual flight rule conditions. The pilot reported that after departing 4S3, he switched back to the right fuel tank, which was indicating 10 gallons. The pilot reported checking the weather again at EUL, which indicated fog and low visibility, prompting him to divert to Boise. The pilot stated, "I was descending to 6,500 feet and a little northwest of Emmett, when the engine died. I first looked at the fuel gages, which were showing 5 on the left tank and about 6 on the right." The pilot reported successfully restarting the engine, but it quit a second time. The pilot further reported that he was now talking with Boise approach for assistance in helping him locate the Emmett airport. After Boise approach advised the pilot that the Emmett airport was two miles to his west, the pilot turned toward the direction of the airport and "clicked the mike 7 times to light up the runway." The pilot stated that due to the ground fog he could not locate the runway, and that just before entering the fog he switched back to the right tank and attempted another restart of the engine. The pilot reported, "Once I entered the fog I could see some ground reference by the faint house lights. When the plane landed in the field the right wing hit a fence post detaching it from the plane." The airplane came to rest on its right side after its left wing separated from the fuselage. There was no postcrash fire.

In a written report supplied to the IIC, a Federal Aviation Administration aviation safety inspector reported that a flight instructor reported fueling the airplane on December 23rd, "exactly to the tabs," which equates to approximately 20 gallons of fuel per tank. The instructor then flew the airplane for 1.6 hours. The accident flight accounted for 2.7 hours, resulting in 4.3 hours having elapsed since the airplane's last refueling. The inspector further reported that during a postaccident inspection of both fuel tanks, which were not breached and no leakage noted, the right wing contained no fuel and the left wing 3.2 gallons, of which 2.2 gallons was usable. The airplane's owner reported to the inspector that the aircraft burned 9.6 gph, and at 75% power at cruise, with proper leaning, the rate is 8.4 gph. The inspector also reported that the fuel selector was positioned in the Right Tank position and that the Emmett airport is not equipped with pilot controlled lighting.

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