Failure to refuel kills two

This August 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: Taylorcraft BC12-D. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Harrison, Maine. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The mechanic who performed the last annual inspection on the Taylorcraft saw the 73-year-old pilot take the airplane out of the hangar. The mechanic noted that the main fuel tank indicator wire was all the way down, indicating a low quantity of fuel. He mentioned that to the pilot, who responded, ‘it sinks,’ and then stated he knew how much fuel was on board.

He took off and flew to another airport where he picked up the passenger for a short flight. The Taylorcraft made a trip around the pattern, then departed to the north. Several witnesses reported seeing it flying north, then heard sputtering sounds, following by engine silence.

The airplane headed towards a highway then disappeared from their view. The airplane collided with the tops of trees, then nosed down into to the ground.

Detailed inspection of the airplane’s fuel supply system revealed a total of four ounces of fuel were drained from the entire airplane. Inspection of the main fuel tank fuel quantity indicator, which consisted of a cork mounted on a steel wire, revealed no evidence of pre-impact failure or malfunction.

Probable cause: The pilot’s improper fuel management, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion.

For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB Identification: ERA10LA422

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