NTSB Identification: ANC98LA081.
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Accident occurred Friday, June 12, 1998 in HOMER, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/19/1999
Aircraft: Aeronca 15AC, registration: N1023H
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 certificated commercial pilot was departing a remote area in a tail wheel equipped airplane. The pilot reported the right fuel tank contained nine gallons of fuel, the left fuel tank contained 6 gallons, and the right fuel tank was selected. The airplane did not have a fuel selector position for 'Both' fuel tanks. The airplane did not have a header tank installed in the fuel system. The fuel tanks do not contain any internal baffles. The pilot said a crosswind was blowing from the west about 15 knots, and that during the initial climb, a gust of wind 'pushed the airplane sideways.' He said the sideways motion sloshed fuel away from the right fuel tank line, and the engine quit about 150 feet above the ground. He reported he switched the fuel selector to the left fuel tank, but the engine did not restart. The airplane's original fuel selector valve was an 'ON/OFF' valve, and selection of a particular tank was not possible. The accident airplane's fuel valve was changed in the past to a three position valve having 'LEFT', 'RIGHT', and 'OFF.' The installation of the valve was approved by an airplane mechanic and an FAA inspector.

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

The loss of engine power due to fuel starvation, and an improper fuel selector valve. Factors in the accident were turbulent wind conditions, the improper replacement of the fuel selector valve by an airplane mechanic, and the failure of an FAA inspector to ensure the approval of the fuel selector valve was suitable for the fuel system design.

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