The pilot reported that before departing on the cross-country flight, he determined by visual inspection that the fuel level was about 1/2-inch below the top of the filler neck on each wing fuel tank.
While established in cruise flight, after about four hours of flight, the Cessna 182 experienced a total loss of engine power.
The pilot was unable to restore engine power and a forced landing was made to a pasture near Fort Morgan, Colorado. Shortly after touchdown, the plane collided with a snow-covered depression that caused it to bounce.
It subsequently hit the terrain in a nose low attitude, collapsing the nose landing gear. The engine firewall and right wing sustained substantial damage during the forced landing.
A post-accident examination established that the wing fuel tanks appeared to be undamaged and void of any useable fuel.
During an interview, the pilot acknowledged that the loss of engine power was likely due to fuel exhaustion.
He stated that he did not use the Pilot Operating Handbook procedures to lean the fuel mixture during the flight.
He recently had to replace a burnt engine cylinder valve, so he was operating the engine at a slightly-rich fuel mixture setting to keep the cylinders from overheating.
He added that the airplane departed with about 65 gallons of fuel, which he believed would provide about five hours of fuel endurance while maintaining an average fuel consumption rate of 13 gallons per hour.
However, following the accident, he acknowledged that he did not properly account for the entire 10 gallons of unusable fuel within the fuel system.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s improper fuel planning/management, which resulted in the total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion and the subsequent forced landing in a pasture.
NTSB Identification: CEN15CA125
This January 2015 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.