NTSB Identification: SEA00LA109.
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Accident occurred Sunday, June 18, 2000 in VANCOUVER, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/18/2001
Aircraft: Piper PA-16, registration: N5995H
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that after washing the aircraft, he decided to take it once around the airfield to dry it off. The pilot did not seek or receive the aircraft owner's permission for this flight, and did not determine that the aircraft was out of annual or that it incorporated an as-yet unapproved fuel tank installation. The fuel tank installation had not yet received FAA approval since the non-standard tank was failing tank drain tests (introducing the potential for the tank drain port to become unported at 'extreme flight attitudes.') The pilot reported that the aircraft's engine quit about 200 feet above ground level after takeoff. The pilot switched fuel tanks, but the engine 'did not revive in time.' The pilot attempted to turn back toward the field, but the aircraft 'lost lift' and impacted the ground. FAA inspectors who examined the airplane after the accident reported they found fuel aboard, and no evidence of any mechanical problems with the engine. The pilot reported he did not have a current required flight review, and that he had not flown as pilot-in-command in the last 10 years.

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

The pilot's failure to determine the aircraft's airworthiness before flight, resulting in operation of the aircraft in an unairworthy condition and consequent fuel starvation, and his subsequent failure to maintain adequate airspeed in an emergency turn back to the airfield, resulting in a stall. Factors included: an unapproved fuel tank installation; the pilot's lack of recurrent flight training; the pilot's lack of recent experience; and the aircraft's low altitude at the time control was lost.

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