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Running Out of Gas Plays Role in Several Crashes

Frank Allegretti, 64, was a meticulous pilot with more than twenty years of experience—which makes it all the more shocking to hear that he crashed the plane he was piloting in a Iowa cornfield because it ran out of gas. He died in the crash. Interviewed for an article about the crash, Allegretti's wife, Cheryl, said, "Like everybody has told me, he was the most cautious, [safe] pilot they ever knew."

Sadly, Allegretti's story is fairly common among pilots. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials say pilots run out of gas with surprising frequency. In the past five years, fuel exhaustion was the cause or a contributing factor in 238 small plane crashes in the U.S., killing 29 people.

"It's surprising to me," said Tom Haueter, director of NTSB's Office of Aviation Safety, "that there's a group of pilots who will knowingly push it, thinking, I can make it the last couple of miles and come up short."

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