The student pilot reported that while on the downwind leg of the traffic pattern, after crossing abeam the runway touchdown zone, he inadvertently shut off the fuel valve instead of activating the carburetor heat in the Taylorcraft BC12-D.
Unaware of his mistake, he continued on the landing approach believing the engine was operating at a reduced power setting.
He reported that after maneuvering the airplane onto final approach, he realized that it was lower than normal and attempted to increase engine power.
After the engine did not respond to his throttle movements, he noticed that the carburetor heat control was not turned on. Believing the engine was experiencing carburetor icing, he activated the carburetor heat.
Still without any response from the engine, he completed a forced landing short of the intended runway in Pearland, Texas. The airplane hit two trees during the forced landing, which resulted in substantial damage to both wings.
While securing the airplane after the accident, he realized he had inadvertently shut off the fuel valve while on the downwind leg instead of activating the carburetor heat. He stated that the two systems had similar push/pull control knobs that were positioned next to each other in the cockpit.
Probable cause: The student pilot inadvertently shut off the fuel valve while on the downwind leg, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation and a forced landing short of the runway.
NTSB Identification: CEN15CA356
This August 2015 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.