Non-certified pilot runs out of fuel

Aircraft: Bellanca Scout Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Zahl, N.D. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot, 33, did not have a valid pilot certificate or medical certificate. His last aviation medical exam was dated April 27, 1997. At that time, he reported a total flight time of 15 hours.

The airplane belonged to his father. Witnesses saw the plane flying low between the piles near a gravel pit. One witness stated that the airplane was about 25 feet above the ground when it appeared to go straight up, then rolled, pitched down and crashed.

The post-accident examination of the airplane revealed it was out of fuel.

Probable cause: The non-certificated pilot’s improper preflight planning, which resulted in fuel exhaustion, and his failure to maintain airplane control after a total loss of engine power.

NTSB Identification: CEN12LA336

This June 2012 accident report is are provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.


  1. Tom says

    Without my medical certificate,
    Or a psychiatric endorsement,
    I can fly not regarding my fate,
    With both aircraft and me to be bent.

  2. brett hawkins says

    Unbelievably rash behavior for someone in a normal state of mind. Maybe he had a fight with his dad, decided to steal the keys to the plane and had to jump in and take off before his old man showed up to continue the spat.

    All listed FAA violations irrelevant to outcome. Very high price to pay. RIP.

    • Smoki says

      “….normal state of mind.” I’d hardly call it a normal state of mind when you purposely and knowingly proceed to engage in an activity in which you can easily kill yourself if you’re negligent of the consequences. Defy gravity through aerodynamics but gravity always wins. So what can the consequences of that defiance be? Death due to blunt trauma, i.e. bash your brains out, if you’re unable to control gravity’s attraction and the sudden reduction of total energy to zero when rejoining terra firma. Boom!

  3. Sleepy says

    Won’t try to defend his actions or Speak ill of the deceased but I doubt the lack of ratings or medical certificate played much of a role in running his tanks dry..

  4. John says

    Another example of lack of government regulation gone astray. If he had only had a license and a current medical this would have never happened.
    PS Don’t let the folks in Alaska (where the feds are shooting at the goal of getting 40% of those piloting aircraft licensed) know this happened.

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