This December 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: Cessna 172. Location: Fair Bluff, N.C. Injuries: None. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The airplane had been parked at the airport since 2004. The owner said that he had stopped taking flying lessons, and decided to sell the airplane. On the day of the accident, he washed the airplane and sumped the fuel tanks. He noted that about a half cup of water drained from the left and right fuel tanks. He decided to take the airplane up for a touch and go. During his initial climb out the engine began to lose power. He pushed the throttle forward and the engine revved, then stopped. The pilot turned towards the field. The airplane landed in heavy brush, then caught fire. The pilot told investigators that he surmised that he did not get all of the water out of the tanks.
Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate preflight inspection, which failed to detect contaminated fuel, and subsequent loss of engine power.
For more information: NTSB.gov