This September 2008 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: Mooney M20. Injuries: 2 Minor. Location: Bolingbrook, Illinois. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The pilot performed a run-up and switched the fuel tank selector to the fullest tank prior to takeoff. During takeoff he retracted the landing gear, climbed to about 300 feet above ground level, and then encountered a loss of engine power. He banked left to avoid housing and landed the airplane at an intersection with stopped traffic. An A&P who assisted the first responders said he found the fuel selector switch in the four o’clock position between the three o’clock right hand tank position and the six o’clock off position.
Probable cause: The non-mechanical loss of engine power due to the pilot’s incorrect positioning of the fuel tank selector prior to takeoff and the subsequent fuel starvation during takeoff.
For more information: NTSB.gov