NTSB Identification: LAX01LA299.
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Accident occurred Saturday, September 01, 2001 in Carson City, NV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/28/2002
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-235, registration: N9199W
Injuries: 3 Serious.

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

As the airplane returned to the airport after a local flight at twilight, the pilot completed the landing checklist as the airplane approached the 45-degree leg. The pilot intended to move the fuel selector handle from the right tip tank position, across two intermediate tank positions, to the left tip tank position. The next position further to the left is the "off" position, which is guarded by a spring-loaded mechanical stop. In the wreckage the mechanical stop was found attached to a plastic cover over the fuel selector; however, the cover was broken from the selector handle assembly. Because of turbulent flight conditions, the pilot entered the downwind leg at the uncontrolled airport about 1,000 feet high and descended on extended downwind leg at near idle power. When he advanced the throttle to arrest the airplane's descent on extended base leg, there was no response from the engine. The fuel pressure read "zero." He attempted to restart the engine and switched the fuel selector to another tank position; however, insufficient altitude remained to afford sufficient time to restart the engine. The aircraft impacted a tree and crashed in the back yard of a residence, striking an occupant of the residence who was in the yard. The morning after the accident there was no fuel in the fuel lines forward of the firewall; however, the aircraft had been inverted overnight. About 2.5 ounces of fuel was found in the carburetor float bowl. When the fuel selector handle was positioned between tanks, the investigation showed each of the adjacent ports was about 10-percent open. Examination of the airplane revealed the annual inspection was 1-month overdue; however, it did not reveal any evidence of preimpact mechanical failure.

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

The pilot's incorrect setting of the fuel selector valve during the prelanding checklist to a position between usable tanks, resulting in fuel starvation.

Full narrative available

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