The pilot of the tailwheel-equipped Piper PA-12 was transporting hunters to a remote cabin in Alaska.
The flight was a 146-mile multileg flight, which departed with about 20 gallons of fuel, which he believed was sufficient for the approximate two-hour flight with about 30 minutes for fuel reserve.
The pilot reported that visual meteorological conditions prevailed during the flight, but he noted that, due to low stratus clouds and rain showers, he diverted from his planned flightpath. He added that, on the last leg of the flight, the unanticipated headwind component was about 15 to 25 mph.
About two miles from his destination, fuel exhaustion occurred, and the engine experienced a total loss of power.
He deviated from his destination to a river to execute a forced landing in Gulkana, Alaska.
While on the base-to-final leg on landing approach, the headwind changed to a tailwind, and the airplane landed in a left-wing-low orientation.
Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed substantial damage to the left wing.
The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.
Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate in-flight fuel planning, which resulted in a loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion.
NTSB Identification: GAA17CA511
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.