This December 2007 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: Vans Aircraft RV6; Location: Stringer, Miss.; Injuries: None; Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The 72-hour private pilot was on a cross-country flight. The homebuilt airplane had a total fuel capacity of 38 gallons. The pilot planned for a two hour and 29 minute flight. He told investigators that he was approximately two hours and 10 minutes into the flight at an altitude of 5,500 feel MSL when the engine quit.
He made several unsuccessful attempts to restart the engine, then elected to execute a forced landing to a grass field. During the emergency descent, the pilot noted that the left and right fuel gauges indicated approximately one-fourth a tank of fuel per side. During the landing roll the nose landing gear sunk into the soft ground and the airplane nosed over.
An FAA investigator said the fuel tanks were intact and there was no evidence of fuel spillage at the scene. The pilot told the investigator that both fuel tanks were full prior to departure. The airplane was powered by a Lycoming O-360-A1D engine. According to the operator’s manual for the engine, the normal fuel consumption rate for that engine is 10.5 gallons per hour at 2,450 rpm.
Probable cause: The loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion. A contributing factor was the lack of suitable terrain for the forced landing.
For more information: NTSB.gov