This October 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: Mooney M20. Injuries: 1 Minor. Location: New Smyrna Beach, Fla. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: According to the pilot, the airplane was not operated for an extended period of time due to a propeller strike. The owner received a ferry permit to have the plane flown to another airport for repairs. Before the flight, the pilot completed a preflight inspection and engine run-up, during which time he did not notice any anomalies.
During the initial climb, about 300 feet above ground level, the engine lost power and the pilot attempted to return to the airport. The airplane crashed on the east side of the runway, resulting in substantial damage to the fuselage.
The post-accident examination by an FAA inspector revealed that the fuel was contaminated with water. The right and left tanks were drained and about 1 pint of water was captured from each fuel tank. In a telephone interview with the pilot, he recalled that during the preflight inspection, he did sump the fuel tanks, but did not notice any water in them.
Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate preflight inspection, which resulted in the loss of engine power due to water contaminated fuel.
For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB Identification: ERA11CA020