NTSB Identification: LAX97LA282.
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Accident occurred Friday, August 08, 1997 in LAKEPORT, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/31/1998
Aircraft: Mooney M20K, registration: N321RM
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 aircraft was in the shop to have the left fuel tank resealed. During the tank sealing procedure, all fuel was drained from the left tank. After the work was completed, the pilot/mechanic departed on a test flight to return the aircraft to service without refueling the left tank. The pilot stated he was positive the fuel selector was positioned for the right tank, which was nearly full. Engine start, taxi, run-up, and the takeoff were normal. During the initial climb, the engine lost power, and the pilot could not return to the runway. The aircraft was landed in a field, and it sustained substantial wing damage. An FAA airworthiness inspector examined the aircraft. He reported that the left tank was completely empty and that abundant fuel was present in the right tank. The fuel line into the distributor manifold was loosened, and the electric fuel pump was energized; air came out of the line at first, followed by a steady stream of fuel. The line was then reconnected. Using the aircraft systems and right tank fuel, the engine was then started, and it operated satisfactorily.

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

the pilot's inadequate preflight by failing to ensure that the fuel selector was positioned to a tank containing fuel, which resulted in fuel starvation, and a forced landing shortly after takeoff.

Full narrative available

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