Aircraft: Mooney M20B. Injuries: 2 Minor. Location: Rosamond, Calif. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: As the pilot prepared for takeoff, he noted that the left fuel tank was about 1/4 full and the right fuel tank was empty.
He had the left fuel tank selected during start up and taxi. As he did his pre-takeoff engine run-up checks, he switched fuel tanks per his normal procedure, despite the fact the right tank was empty. The pilot did not put the selector valve to the left tank prior to take off.
The airplane’s engine lost power within minutes of takeoff. The pilot made a forced landing in a nearby field, during which the airplane collided with fence posts.
Probable cause: A loss of engine power during takeoff due to fuel starvation as a result of the pilot’s selection of an empty fuel tank prior to departure.
NTSB Identification: WPR12CA166
This April 2012 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.