The private pilot reported that he conducted a preflight inspection of the Mooney M20C and noted that both fuel tanks were full. He then took off for the personal cross-country flight.
During approach to landing at the destination airport in Wichita, he extended the downwind leg due to inbound instrument flight rules traffic. The engine then suddenly lost power, and he conducted a forced landing.
An examination of the wreckage revealed no preimpact mechanical anomalies.
The fuel tank selector was positioned to the left fuel tank, and the electric fuel pump was in the “off” position. No fuel was found in the left tank. There was no smell of fuel, no evidence of fuel spillage, and the fuel tank did not appear to have been breached.
Some fuel, about 2″ to 3″ deep, was found in the right fuel tank. If the pilot had switched the fuel selector from the left to the right fuel tank and turned on the electric fuel pump, the engine would not have been starved of fuel.
Probable cause: The total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation, which resulted from the pilot’s improper fuel management.
NTSB Identification: CEN16LA129
This March 2016 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.