The student pilot reported that, during the preflight of the Cessna 172, he and the pilot-rated passenger, who was not a flight instructor, inspected the fuel sumps on each wing and the engine, “pulling a sample on each.”
He added that, during departure from the airstrip in England, Arkansas, after they became airborne for about nine seconds, the engine rpm dropped to idle. The propeller was still rotating, but the engine was not producing power.
Subsequently, the plane landed in a cotton field, the nose landing gear sheared off, and the plane came to rest nosed over.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to the tail and fuselage.
The student pilot reported that the airplane had gone through a pre-purchase inspection the previous week, and the airplane had accrued little time since the annual, which was seven months before the accident. He added that it seemed like the airplane was starved for fuel.
The FAA inspector reported finding substantial water in the gascolator.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to detect water in the fuel system during the preflight inspection, which resulted in a loss of engine power during departure and a subsequent impact with terrain.
NTSB Identification: GAA18CA160
This March 2018 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.