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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: SEA03FA121
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Saturday, June 28, 2003 in Vail, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/30/2004
Aircraft: Lamb (Vans) RV-4, registration: N6596X
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot departed the private airstrip the morning after the proprietary runway lights had been disabled due to vandalism. He flew 1.8 hours to attend a family reunion and then departed shortly after 1930 back to his point of origination. The aircraft crashed at 2155. A relative familiar with the aircraft reported that the fuel consumption was about 8 gallons per hour and the aircraft was equipped with two 16 gallon wing tanks. There was no evidence that the pilot acquired any fuel after departing and no record of refueling for the return flight. The aircraft, which was observed flying westbound, crashed 3 miles south-southwest of the destination airstrip. Post crash examination revealed less than an ounce of fuel in the aircraft's fuel lines. The sun was approximately -7 degrees below the horizon at the time of the accident (dusk). The aircraft was observed to touch down in a 1,000 foot long open field of high grass overlying slightly rough terrain, roll a short distance and then nose over. Examination of the aircraft revealed that the standard roll bar aft of the forward pilot's seat had been replaced with a significantly lower roll bar.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • A loss of engine power due to the pilot's inadequate in-flight decision by failing to refuel while en route, resulting in fuel exhaustion. Contributing factors were the non-operating (vandalized) runway lights, the pilot's delayed departure to his destination, dusk light conditions, rough/uneven terrain and high vegetation.