Pilot forgets fuel valve

Aircraft: Rans S-7 Courier. Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor. Location: Riley, Kans. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: According to the pilot, he turned off the airplane’s fuel shutoff valve and tied the airplane down, thinking that he was done flying for the day, when he noticed a family with a 10-year-old boy at the airport and offered to give the boy a ride around the field.

The pilot untied the airplane and put the boy in the back seat. He did not use his checklist when he started the engine and taxied to the runway.

The airplane took off but when it was about 30 feet in the air the engine quit. The airplane came down hard.

The pilot told investigators that he had failed to complete a preflight cockpit check and did not turn on the fuel valve. In addition, the pilot reported that shoulder harnesses that were installed and available were not worn.

Probable cause: A total loss of engine power during takeoff due to fuel starvation as a result of the pilot’s inadequate preflight inspection and failure to ensure that the fuel shutoff valve was turned on before departure.

NTSB Identification: CEN12CA003

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. Tony says

    I would agree the failure to follow a checklist is a bummer for both pilot and passenger. But I would also remind all of us we each have our own mistake list in hand. Go ahead and rap the guy, there are hundreds of pilots who have made mistakes and paid with thier lives.

    The story is not to scold the pilot but to learn from his error. I do like the CIGAR list, knowing all about your hours and what you have flown is not relevent nor do I care.

    • Doug Evans says

      I really like the idea of pre- flighting the aircraft before starting the engine. I like check lists and flows. Before take off they include checking “fuel” about 3 or 4 times. I would absolutely scold the pilot for taking someone flying, taking that responsibility into his hands, and not even doing the minimum to make the flight safe, and yes, I’ve seen lots of “hot shot” pilots forget to run checklists, and that is NOT a memory item. Did you ever forget the cigar flow? Maybe you too should dust off your check lists before we’re writing about you.

  2. vaughn S. Price says

    CIGAR Controls-Instruments- Gas- Attitude {Trim}- Runup
    Don’t even need it written down and it applies to most airplanes. I have over 15000 hrs general aviation flying and have flown 139 different makes and model’s with no accidents

    • Doug Evans says

      Ever tried a check list? After 45 years of professional flying I still get it out, and go through the flows and check lists.
      Maybe your luck will run out, maybe not, but I’m not flying with you, that’s for sure.

  3. Brett S says

    If you want to ignore your checklists and go crash your airplane by yourself, have at it. But, taking along an innocent child for that same ride is pretty awful. It’s called a checklist because, you know, you’re supposed to *check* it!

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