NTSB Identification: LAX96FA229.
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Accident occurred Thursday, June 13, 1996 in BIG BEAR CITY, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/29/1997
Aircraft: Piper PA-24-250, registration: N7280P
Injuries: 2 Fatal,1 Serious.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

During the initial climb after takeoff, the aircraft's engine abruptly and completely lost power when the aircraft was about 200 feet above ground level. Witnesses reported that the aircraft continued ahead until its nose pitched up once or twice. The left wing then dropped, and the aircraft fell into the shallow water of a lake. The fuel selector was found positioned to the left auxiliary tank. In an interview, the pilot acknowledged that he had not checked the selector position before takeoff as required by the aircraft checklist, and he had inadvertently departed with the fuel selector positioned to the empty auxiliary tank.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

improper preflight by the pilot, by failing to ensure that the fuel selector was positioned to an approved fuel tank with adequate fuel before takeoff; his failure to reposition the fuel selector (per emergency procedures) after the loss of engine power; and his failure to maintain adequate airspeed, which resulted in an inadvertent stall and collision with the terrain.

Full narrative available

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