Lack of fuel, sun-glare contribute to fatal accident

This March 2010 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Beech K35 Bonanza. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Boulder City, Nev. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The 45-year-old private pilot, who had about 300 hours in the Bonanza, was on a cross-country flight to an airport that he had previously visited several times. He contacted airport personnel 15 miles short of his intended destination, stating that he was low on fuel and that he needed to land immediately.

Airport personnel informed him that runway 15 was active. The accident happened late in the day. The airport was to the west. The pilot reported that he did not see the airport and asked for help locating it. About four minutes later, he requested a straight-in landing and indicated that the engine had quit and he was gliding. Witnesses in another aircraft reported that they saw the airplane strike power lines and crash east of the airport while on final approach for the runway.

Inspection of the wreckage found that approximately five gallons of usable fuel remained in the left main tank. The remainder of the fuel tanks were either breached or contained less than usable amounts of fuel. The sun was 16° above the horizon directly in the direction of the runway and glare likely hindered the pilot from seeing the wires.

Probable cause: A loss of engine power due to fuel starvation as a result of the pilot’s inadequate fuel management. Also causal was his failure to maintain clearance from power lines.

For more information: NTSB Identification: WPR10FA158



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