An airport security camera captured the pilot getting into the Piper PA30, starting the engines, and taxiing for takeoff from Harrison, Ark. No preflight inspection was recorded.
About two minutes later, the camera and witnesses saw the airplane take off and immediately enter a gradual left turn about 400 feet above the ground. The bank angle increased to about 90° before the airplane’s right wing dropped, and the airplane disappeared from view.
Examination of the left engine revealed water in the fuel flow divider, fuel injectors, engine-driven fuel pump, and selector valve fuel bowl.
A sample taken from the fuel truck was tested and contained no water or contaminants.
It is likely that, due to water in the fuel, the left engine lost power, which resulted in the airplane turning to the left.
The pilot, who sustained serious injuries in the crash, did not quickly and appropriately configure the airplane for one-engine flight, which resulted in a loss of control.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s loss of control during initial climb because he failed to correctly compensate for the loss of power in the left engine. Contributing to the accident was water contamination in the fuel and the lack of an adequate preflight inspection by the pilot.
NTSB Identification: CEN14FA337
This July 2014 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.