This January 2009 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: Baby Ace D. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Kilgore, Texas. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The pilot, who had logged 556 hours, held a commercial ticket and had an instrument rating. He had planned a VFR cross-country flight using a sectional aeronautical chart that consisted of portions of the Dallas-Fort Worth and Memphis sectionals taped together. No effective or edition dates were visible on the chart, nor any information indicating when the chart would become obsolete for use as a navigational aid. The chart was approximately 3 feet by 1 foot and contained a pink highlighted black ink line connecting Oak Ridge, Louisiana, with Fort Worth Spinks Airport in Texas. Above the line were course headings written in black ink on white paper, and taped to the page. A yellow highlighted line was observed below the pink highlighted line. The yellow line corresponded to Interstate 20, which ran below and parallel to the pink line. The chart was folded such that 12-inch sections of the map were visible at one time.
A handwritten yellow piece of notebook paper containing names of cities, mileage, and degree headings along the left margin was also recovered from the wreckage. Along the centerline of the paper were mileage calculations, and the word “gas” circled in four locations. Degree headings on the paper corresponded to course headings between the way points indicated, and the mileage notations corresponded to the statute miles between these waypoints.
The airplane was equipped with a non-aviation approved hand-held GPS. The last few minutes of flight track depict the airplane flying over the accident area and reversing course 10 times. The airplane crashed 20 miles south of the last fuel stop.
The terrain surrounding the wreckage showed no signs of ground scarring, and the debris field was contained to the immediate vicinity of the wreckage. There were no signs of spilled fuel except for a stain about the size of a dinner plate under the engine assembly. The fuel tank was empty and the gascolator contained two to three tablespoons of fuel. No mechanical mechanical issues were found with the airframe or the engine.
Probable cause: A loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion as a result of the pilot’s improper fuel planning. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to maintain situational awareness, resulting in him being lost.
For more information: NTSB.gov