The airplane was substantially damage during a forced landing into a wooded area, at about 0700 Central time, following a total loss of engine power. The commercial pilot was seriously injured. Visual conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan was in effect.
The pilot reported departing with six hours of fuel for the four-hour flight. While cruising at 6000 feet near Montgomery, Ala., the engine began to run rough. The pilot enriched the fuel mixture to alleviate the rough running engine, which resulted in higher fuel burn rate. He added that the situation was compounded by turbulence and a headwind. Prior to reaching his destination, the pilot realized he didn’t have sufficient fuel and decided to land at a nearby airport. While being vectored by ATC, the pilot was unable to maintain altitude and had to descend several miles short of the runway. The pilot further stated that after the accident he learned there was icing between 1500 feet and 4000 feet, which probably contributed to his inability to maintain altitude. Review of preliminary ATC data revealed that the pilot declared a low-fuel status, and then reported the engine lost all power about five minutes later.