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: Cessna 182. Injuries: 2 Serious. Location: Caldwell, Texas. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: Prior to departure the airplane was filled with approximately 24 gallons of fuel. An airport security camera recorded the airplane being refueled. The video showed that the pilot, after refueling, did not put the right wing’s fuel cap back on. During the cross-country flight, the Cessna engine lost power. The pilot attempted to conduct a forced landing to a nearby airport. The airplane did not have enough altitude to glide to the airport. It hit a light pole and crashed into a athletic field near the airport.
The on-site investigation found that the right wing fuel cap was located on the ground near the airplane’s wing. Blue fuel streaks were found on the fuselage’s right side behind the rear fuselage window and below the right horizontal stabilator. The right wing had fuel streaks consistent with 100LL aviation fuel being siphoned from the fuel tank during flight, leading to the loss of fuel. The left wing’s fuel cap was in place.
Probable cause: A loss of engine power in flight due to fuel exhaustion as a result of the pilot’s failure to secure the right wing’s fuel cap, leading to fuel being siphoned from the tank during flight.
For more information: NTSB.gov