This November 2007 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: Piper Cherokee. Location: Hyannis, Mass. Injuries: None. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The student pilot and CFI were on an instructional flight. After flying for about 40 minutes, they returned to the airport for landing. The student listened to the ATIS and made contact with the control tower. He stated he believed he switched the fuel tank selector from the left tank to the right tank position. Then he pulled the power back and continued his descent. The airplane was about 400 feet above the ground when the student determined that they were coming in too low and he needed to add power. When he pushed the throttle in there was no response from the engine. The CFI took control of the airplane and turned to avoid trees and power lines. The airplane landed in a field adjacent to the airfield. During the rollout the airplane hit a pole.
After the accident, the student pilot realized that he had put the fuel selector to the off position, not to the other tank. The student told investigators that he was not fully knowledgeable of the equipment on the plane.
Probable cause: The student pilot’s mismanagement of the fuel supply and the flight instructor’s inadequate supervision.
For more information: NTSB.gov