NTSB Identification: SEA00LA098.
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Accident occurred Sunday, June 04, 2000 in QUINAULT, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/18/2001
Aircraft: Piper PA-20, registration: N7737K
Injuries: 2 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.

While in cruise flight, the pilot switched from an empty right tank, to a full left tank. Because the detents on the fuel selector valve were hard to feel, he inadvertently placed the selector in a position that would not allow enough fuel to flow to the engine to allow it to continue to produce power. When the engine quit, he attempted to reposition the valve to the right tank, but the engine did not restart. The pilot therefore tried once again to select the left tank, but was unable to place the selector in the correct position. He therefore once again tried the right tank, but was unsuccessful in getting fuel to the engine. Because there was no suitable place to attempt a landing, he elected to try to put the aircraft down between the stacks of logs in a commercial log-sorting yard. During his attempt to land in the confined space, the main gear hit the surface with enough force to cause one main gear leg to collapse. A post-accident inspection of the fuel selector determined that it functioned properly when in the correct position, but the alignment detents themselves were hard to discern.

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

Fuel starvation due to the pilot's failure to position the fuel selector valve to the proper/correct position while switching fuel tanks. Factors include unreliable fuel selector valve position detents, having no suitable terrain in which to execute a forced landing, and a high rate of descent at the moment the aircraft touched down.

Full narrative available

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