Fuel selector misplacement for Swift

Aircraft: Globe Swift. Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious. Location: Ewell, M. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot stated that the fuel tanks were filled prior to departure. The airplane was equipped with main and auxiliary fuel tanks that held 26 and nine gallons of fuel, respectively. The engine burned about nine gallons of fuel per hour.

The pilot made an uneventful 45-minute cross country flight from his home airport to the destination airport. About 10 minutes into the return flight, when the airplane was cruising over water at 2,000 feet MSL to stay below an overcast layer, the engine lost power.

The pilot attempted to glide to an island while performing emergency engine restart procedures, however, he did not verify the position of the fuel tank selector.

The airplane glided about two miles before ditching in the water. Other airplanes and helicopters circled the area about 20 to 30 minutes after ditching, however, the pilot and passenger were wearing dark clothes and were not seen. The pilot and passenger then attempted to swim to the island. The waves were high and the passenger drown. When the airplane was recovered, the fuel selector was found positioned to the auxiliary fuel tank.

Examination of the wreckage did not reveal any pre-impact mechanical malfunctions.

In the pilot’s operating handbook for the airplane, the procedure for an engine failure during flight stated that, for airplanes equipped with an auxiliary fuel tank, the pilot should ascertain that the fuel selector valve is on a tank containing fuel.

Probable cause: The pilot’s improper fuel management in that he did not verify the fuel selector position before beginning the flight or after the power loss, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation and subsequent ditching.

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA002

This October 2011 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.


  1. Edd Weninger says

    I had a Swift with the fuselage aux tank back in the ’70s. Never saw an official P.O.H. for it. Where did that come from?

  2. Vaughn S. Price says

    Ray Klein said it all. When I was 17 years old I had been flying a Fairchild PT-19, Putting 10 gallons in each tank. I checked out in the BT-13, And put 10 gallons in each tank. My checkout only consisted of two takeoffs and landings, No explanation of the fuel system.
    On my 1st solo flight I put 10 gallons in each Tank, about 2 hours in the Fairchild But nobody told me that the 450 Pratt & Whitney in the BT-13 burned 20 gallons in 20 minutes The first circuit in the pattern was great, so I decided to do another, at 200 feet silence, dead engine. I had never been told of emergency re start procedures, just to pick the best available spot and park it. at age 17 my reaction time was excellent, so without thinking I let go of the stick and moved everything that had anything to do with getting gas to that engine, mixture-wobble pump- primer, while rotating the gas valve through all tanks. When I hit the reserve position it fired, I snapped a ninety left putting me closer to open fields, it was still running so I snapped another 90 left putting me in a very close downwind leg then base leg off the end of the runway,and landed. I parked it and sheepishly walked back along the row of hangars at Compton Airport. John Harris, an old mechanic stopped me and asked if I had learned anything new. Yes!! The last seventeen gallons in the right tank could only be accessed by switching to reserve

    A word to the wise, Learn your aircrafts fuel system

  3. says

    This is just sad. Please follow the checklist it is there for a REASON. And when an engine just stops for no apparent reason, with no undue noise or vibration always suspect fuel flow first.

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