LAX08CA164
LAX08CA164

In a written statement, the pilot reported that he took off with 38 gallons of fuel on board. The flight northwest from Van Nuys, California, to Rohnerville, California, should have taken 3 hours 30 minutes. After departure the pilot believed he was following highway I-5, but became confused when he did not recognize landmarks. He realized he had followed highway 14 through Palmdale, California. When the airplane was north of Palmdale, he corrected his course toward I-5 and his destination. He descended from 8,500 feet mean sea level (msl) to 2,500 feet msl in an attempt to find smooth air and fastest ground speed. He climbed to 4,500 feet msl and flew at 110 miles per hour (mph) ground speed according to his global positioning system (GPS). He did not keep track of the elapsed time from takeoff because he had made the trip to his refueling stop, Santa Rosa, California, in 3 hours before. He began a descent into Santa Rosa, and at 800 feet above ground level (agl), the engine rpm (revolutions per minute) dropped abruptly and the pilot realized the airplane had run out of fuel. He made a forced landing into a vineyard near the airport. At the time of the accident, the Hobbs meter showed an elapsed flight time of 4.4 hours. The pilot indicated that the airplane and engine had no mechanical failures or malfunctions during the flight.

At 1700 Pacific daylight time, winds aloft at Oakland International Airport were reported from 290 degrees at 14 knots at 2,585 feet msl. At 4,950 feet msl, winds were reported from 320 degrees at 21 knots. At 6,351 feet msl, winds were reported from 324 degrees at 22 knots.

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