NTSB Identification: NYC97FA159.
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Accident occurred Monday, August 04, 1997 in DANBURY, CT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/15/1999
Aircraft: Piper J3C-65, registration: N24565
Injuries: 1 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.

The pilot had flown the airplane on several previous flights and stated that it had 'performed flawlessly.' The pilot and passenger flew a 1 hour flight and returned to the departure airport. The airplane was on the ground for about 30 minutes and had a radio antenna repaired. The engine was started by the pilot to check the radio on the ground, and then shut down. The pilot then restarted the engine with one pull of the propeller and taxied out for takeoff. After takeoff, about 200 feet above the ground, the engine lost power and the pilot began a steep 180 degree turn. The airplane then stalled and spun into the ground, about 1,000 feet from the departure end of the runway. Examination of the wreckage revealed no preimpact failures of the airframe or engine. The fuel selector valve, and control assembly in the cockpit, were found in the OFF position. When air was applied to one end of the fuel selector in the OFF position, a flow of air could be felt at the other end. A similar airplane was started with the fuel selector OFF, and the engine ran for 1 minute and 46 seconds before fuel starvation.

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

The pilot's failure to takeoff with the fuel selector in the full on position, which resulted in fuel starvation. Also causal was the pilot's improper in-flight decision to attempt a 180 degree turn back to the runway, which resulted in the inadvertent stall/spin.

Full narrative available

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