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.