This August 2008 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: Piper Super Cruiser. Injuries: 1 Minor. Location: North Myrtle Beach, S.C. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The banner-tow pilot filled the fuel tanks, then flew for 45 minutes. After landing he secured the airplane. Before the next departure, the operator advised the pilot twice to fuel the airplane, however it was not fueled. The pilot departed on a banner-tow flight. After about two minutes he noticed the left and right fuel quantity gauges indicated one quarter and on-third full capacity respectively. The engine sputtered, then lost power. The pilot notified air traffic control, released the banner, and ditched the airplane. Examination of the airplane revealed that no fuel was present in the airplane’s fuel tanks or carburetor.
Probable cause: A total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion as a result of the pilot’s inadequate fuel planning.
For more information: NTSB.gov