NTSB Identification: ANC00LA102.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, August 16, 2000 in ANCHORAGE, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/02/2001
Aircraft: Piper J-3, registration: N88283
Injuries: 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.

The airplane's engine lost power shortly after takeoff. The pilot said that just before the loss of power, he had closed the fuel valve to the center fuel tank, and opened the fuel valve to the right fuel tank. The airplane is not equipped with a starter motor, and the pilot was unable to restart the engine prior to colliding with a parked car. Postaccident inspection discovered no preaccident mechanical anomalies with the airplane. The airplane was not equipped with the required quick drain valve in the center fuel tank. The quick drain valve was required by a supplemental type certificate associated with the installation of wing-mounted fuel tanks, and an FAA airworthiness directive, for the purpose of ensuring that all water or other contaminants could be removed from the center fuel tank. Prior to the flight, the pilot related he had drained a small amount of water from the center tank by using the fuel line gascolator. The NTSB IIC, the FAA inspector, and the pilot, determined that two cups of undrainable fluid remain in the center fuel tank when the gascolator is used to drain the center tank. The center tank cap was not fitted with a seal, or 'O'-ring. During the two weeks prior to the accident, the airplane was exposed to heavy rain.

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

The loss of engine power due to water contamination of the fuel system, the airplane's lack of the required center fuel tank quick drain, and the pilot's inadequate preflight.

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