NTSB Identification: LAX99LA035.
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Accident occurred Thursday, November 19, 1998 in UPLAND, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/16/2001
Aircraft: Mooney M20F, registration: N3500X
Injuries: 1 Serious,1 Minor.

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

During the initial climb after takeoff, the engine began to sputter. The pilot leveled the airplane and the engine ran smoothly. Subsequently, the engine quit while on a downwind leg. According to witnesses, it had rained during the two weeks prior to the accident and the airplane had sat outside in transient parking. One witness stated he had witnessed an inspection of the O-ring seals on the fuel caps and they showed evidence of deterioration. Witnesses further reported that on the day of the accident, the aircraft had not been refueled. During the engine run-up prior to takeoff, the engine sputtered and quit. After the accident, recovery personnel removed 1.5 cups of water from the left wing and 2 tablespoons of water from the right wing. They further stated that each wing had 17 gallons of fuel. Examination of the fuel system revealed deteriorated O-ring seals on the fuel caps, and rusted filler ports on the wings. A liquid substance was removed from the fuel injection servo and the engine driven fuel pump fuel line. The liquid substance tested positively for water with water finding paste. The fuel flow divider was disassembled and showed no evidence of damage; however, it was noted that there was water on the fuel side of the diaphragm. No further discrepancies were noted with the engine.

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

Loss of engine power due to water contaminated fuel and the pilot's inadequate preflight inspection of the airplane. A factor was the failure of the owner/pilot to properly maintain the airplane.

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