NTSB Identification: ATL98LA026.
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Accident occurred Saturday, December 20, 1997 in JACKSONVILLE, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/30/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-22-108, registration: N5258Z
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 stated he filled only the left fuel tank when he refueled the previous night. Before takeoff, he checked the fuel and 'determined' there was approximately 11 gallons in the left tank. He took off from the airport and climbed to about 400 feet where the engine began to sputter. The pilot stated he then looked for a suitable landing field, and made a forced landing. During the forced landing, the airplane encountered rough terrain and was damaged. According to an FAA inspector, who interviewed the pilot, the pilot stated that he believed the right fuel tank had been selected. The pilot believed he switched to the left fuel tank prior to the engine failure, but he could not be certain. According to the Pilot's Operating Handbook and the pilot, takeoffs must be made with the fuel selector in the left position.

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

the pilot's improper preflight inspection by failing to ensure the fuel selector was properly positioned, which led to fuel starvation, loss of engine power, and a forced landing on rough/uneven terrain. The lack of suitable terrain for a forced landing was a related factor.

Full narrative available

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