NTSB Identification: LAX99LA318.
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Accident occurred Thursday, September 23, 1999 in SNELLING, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/06/2001
Aircraft: Ciernia GLASAIR III, registration: N153JC
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.

About 25 minutes into the flight over mountainous terrain, the pilot noticed that the left fuel cap was missing, and that fuel was escaping from the left tank filler opening. The pilot said he selected the right tank, but then returned the selector to the both position. He descended to make a precautionary landing at an airport ahead of the airplane and the engine quit during the en route descent. He landed in a field with the landing gear retracted and impacted a fence. An FAA inspector examined the airplane during recovery operations. As it was being lifted, he observed about 1 quart of fuel drain from the left wing tank. When the selector was positioned to both about 1 gallon drained from the belly in a continuous stream. According to the pilot and a mechanic who worked on the airplane before the flight, while at the departure airport the pilot had several electrical system problems that required several days to repair. During this time as electrical components were being replaced, engine starts became problematic. The mechanic pressurized the fuel tank with air through the left tank fuel filler opening and the engine started without difficulty. The mechanic suspected that the electric fuel pump was the cause of the problem and advised the pilot to have the pump examined. The pilot decided to continue with his flight plans instead. The pilot stated that he did not do his own preflight check of the airplane; he assumed that the fuel cap had been replaced. The mechanic reported that the pilot replaced the cowling and restarted the engine. Three witnesses watched the airplane taxi out and depart. No fuel caps were found on the ramp or the runway.

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

The pilot's inadequate preflight inspection, which failed to ensure that the left fuel filler cap was secure, and his decision to continue flight with a known malfunction in the electric fuel pump. Also causal was the pilot's improper positioning of the fuel selector to the both selection after the siphoning fuel condition was noted from the left tank filler opening, which resulted in fuel exhaustion.

Full narrative available

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