Poor preflight leads to fatality

This August 2010 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.

Aircraft: Stinson 108. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Andrews, S.C. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot, 66, held a student pilot certificate, which was issued Nov. 18, 2009. His most recent FAA third-class airman medical certificate was issued on the same date, with a restriction that he must wear corrective lenses. The pilot reported on his most recent medical that he had accumulated a total time of 200 hours. The pilot took off, then the engine lost power and the airplane crashed into trees.

The post-accident examination revealed no fuel in the left wing fuel tank and approximately one to three gallons of fuel in the right wing fuel tank. The airplane’s certificate holder stated that the unusable fuel for the airplane’s configuration was two gallons per tank. Had the student pilot checked the fuel tanks prior to takeoff, he would have noted that there was little fuel in the tanks.

Probable cause: Loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion, and the student pilot’s failure to adequately preflight the airplane prior to takeoff.

For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB Identification: ERA10LA442

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