The private pilot did not visually check the fuel level in the tanks before the personal cross-country flight, but estimated that there was sufficient fuel on board for a one-hour flight. The flight was expected to take 30 minutes.
About 15 to 20 minutes into the flight, the Bellanca 17-30A’s engine started to surge, and it then experienced a total loss of power.
Attempts to restart the engine were unsuccessful.
The pilot then attempted to circle to the north end of a nearby airport so he could land to the south instead of landing to the north with a light tailwind.
While on final approach, the plane contacted trees and terrain about 300′ north of the runway end at the airport in Overbrook, Oklahoma.
A post-accident examination revealed that the fuel system was intact. No fuel was found in the left wing tank, and 1/2 gallon of fuel was found in the right wing tank.
Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate preflight fuel planning, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion, and his subsequent decision to circle to the north end of the airport due to a light tailwind condition instead of making a downwind landing.
NTSB Identification: CEN16LA090
This January 2016 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.