CEN11LA430
CEN11LA430

On June 29, 2011, at 1325 central daylight time, a Piper model PA-28-180 airplane, N9002J, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Barron, Wisconsin. The pilot and two passengers were not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was operated without a flight plan. The personal flight originated from Watford City Municipal Airport (S25), Watford City, North Dakota, at 0930 and was destined for Rice Lake Regional Airport (KRPD), Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

The pilot reported that the planned route was to fly direct from S25 to KRPD, a total distance of 494 nautical miles, with a fuel stop at Cambridge Municipal Airport (KCBG), Cambridge, Minnesota. He noted that the airplane had full fuel tanks (49.6 gallons usable) before departure. After takeoff, the flight climbed to a cruise altitude of 11,500 feet mean sea level. The pilot reported that during the flight he recalculated his fuel remaining and elected to continue onto the final destination without refueling. Approximately 4 hours 25 minutes into the flight the airplane experienced a complete loss of engine power about 5 miles northwest of the destination airport. The pilot was unable to restart the engine after switching fuel tanks and a forced landing was made to a nearby field. He reported that he extended the flaps for landing after the airplane had cleared power lines that bordered the field. He stated that the flaps retracted suddenly after he released the flap handle, because he had inadvertently depressed the flap handle release button while extending the flaps. He reported that the sudden loss of lift from the unintended flap retraction resulted in a hard landing which collapsed the landing gear. The fuselage and firewall were substantially damaged during the forced landing.

The pilot stated that the loss of engine power was due to fuel exhaustion and not the result of a mechanical malfunction of the engine. According to the Piper PA-28-180 owner's handbook, the expected fuel consumption rate at 75-percent power was 10.0 gallons per hour. According to postaccident calculations, the average fuel consumption rate achieved during the accident flight was 11.2 gallons per hour.

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