According to the pilot, he was flying a 400-nautical-mile, cross-county flight in the Cessna 177RG.
He reported that the outside air temperature along the route had been hot. He recalled that the engine temperature had been high and that he “increased the mixture to cool the engine down multiple times.”
As he approached his destination, the engine began “coughing for 3-4 minutes” before it stopped. He attempted to land at the destination airport, but was unable to reach it, so he made a forced landing in a mud-filled drainage channel about .5 mile north of the airport in Byron, California.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to the lower fuselage and windscreen.
An FAA aviation safety inspector examined the airplane’s fuel system at the accident site. He reported that both fuel tanks were found empty, with about 1/2 cup of fuel at the bottom of the left tank, after removing the sump drain.
The pilot reported that the accident could have been prevented with the “use of a fuel dipstick for better measurement of fuel quantity.”
Probable cause: The pilot’s improper preflight fuel planning, which resulted in a loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion.
NTSB Identification: GAA17CA505
This August 2017 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.