March 3, 2007, Visalia, Calif., Mooney M20D


The airplane experienced a loss of engine power during cruise and made an emergency landing at about 0745 Pacific time in a construction site. The Private pilot and one passenger were not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage after impacting a ditch during the landing rollout. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot reported that he did not check the fuel quantity during his preflight inspection, but stated that the airplane had been “topped off” about a month before, and he had flown about one hour of fuel out of the right tank. The pilot believed that the accident flight was flown on the left tank and did not remember switching tanks during the 160-nm flight. About three miles north of the destination airport, the engine “sputtered.” He switched tanks and engaged the fuel boost pump. The engine “caught,” then “sputtered” again. The pilot switched tanks three or four more times. Post-accident inspection of the airplane revealed the right fuel tank was empty; the left tank contained about six gallons of fuel.


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