On January 28, 2011, about 1400 central standard time, a Piper model PA-24-250 airplane, N8023P, was substantially damaged after an off airport landing following a loss of engine power. The private pilot and one passenger were not injured. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. The flight originated at Livingston Municipal Airport (00R), Livingston, Texas, and was en route to Huntsville Municipal Airport (UTS), Huntsville, Texas. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.

The pilot stated he had requested the airplane to be “topped off” by a local fixed base operator. Fueling records confirmed the airplane took nine gallons of fuel. The pilot also stated he visually confirmed all four fuel tanks were “topped off” during his preflight inspection. The pilot said he started the engine at 1302 and took off at 1309. He landed at 00R at 1339 and left the engines running on the ground for about 20 minutes, and departed. While flying from 00R to UTS at 1354 the “engine started surging due to a lack of fuel.” The pilot attempted to restart the engine, but the engine would not restart. He then performed a forced landing to a dirt road. During landing the left main gear collapsed and the left wing spar was damaged.

The airplane was equipped with four fuel tanks, a left and right main tank and left and right auxiliary tanks. According to the airplane owner’s handbook 60 gallons is the standard combined capacity of the main fuel tanks. If auxiliary fuel cells are installed the capacity is 90 gallons. The auxiliary fuel cells hold 15 gallons each and are located outboard of the main fuel tanks. The person who fueled the airplane said he refueled only two tanks and was not aware the airplane was equipped with four tanks. He thought he had fueled the inboard main tanks and did not notice the two auxiliary tanks.

A Federal Aviation Administration inspector examined the airplane and determined the left and right main fuel tanks were empty and the two auxiliary tanks were full. He did not detect any signs of fuel leaks at the scene.

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