NTSB Identification: LAX97LA020.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, October 15, 1996 in PALO ALTO, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/30/1997
Aircraft: Beech S35, registration: N5642K
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that he calculated that 60 gallons of fuel were onboard his airplane before taking off on the flight, and that fuel was located in the main and auxiliary tanks. En route, the pilot transferred all of the fuel from the tip tanks into the main tanks, and alternated using fuel from the main tanks. The pilot additionally reported that approaching Palo Alto, he repositioned the fuel selector toward the fullest tank. On final approach, all engine power was lost, and the pilot made a forced landing in a marsh area of the San Francisco Bay. The FAA coordinator reported that during examination of the airplane and surrounding marshland, no evidence of any oil or fuel leakage was found. The airplane was recovered, and its fuel tanks were found intact. The quantity of fuel observed in the left wing tip tank and the left main tank was 0.25 and 11.0 gallons, respectively. The quantity of fuel observed in the right wing tip tank and the right main tank was 0.75 and 0.50 gallons, respectively. During examination of the engine, no evidence of preimpact damage was found, and the engine was successfully test run.

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

fuel starvation, due to the pilot's improper positioning of the fuel tank selector to an empty tank. Swampy terrain in the emergency landing area was a related factor.

Full narrative available

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