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 private pilot was conducting a personal cross-country flight. The pilot last fueled the airplane 10 days before the accident. Review of GPS data and fueling records revealed that between the last fueling and the accident, the airplane had been operated for nearly 4 hours. Several witnesses observed the airplane flying overhead as it neared the destination airport and then saw it impact treetops near a golf course. One of the witnesses stated that the left wing was low and that the airplane was losing altitude "very quickly" before it impacted terrain. Another witness reported hearing the engine "sputtering" before impact. The witness drove to the accident scene and saw fuel leaking from the airplane.
Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or abnormalities that would have precluded normal operation; however, the examination noted alack of rotational signatures on the propeller. The right fuel tank was found intact and empty.
The witness's description of the engine sputtering as well as the lack of rotational signatures on the propeller suggest that the engine had likely lost power before the impact. Although the fuel selector was found in the left fuel tank position, it could not be determined what position the selector valve was in before the loss of engine power. It is possible that the pilot exhausted the fuel in the right fuel tank and was attempting to restart the engine from the left fuel tank when the accident occurred; however, based on the available evidence, the reason for the loss of engine power could not be determined.