NTSB Identification: NYC02LA148.
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Accident occurred Sunday, July 28, 2002 in Harrisonburg, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/05/2004
Aircraft: Bird CK, registration: N99754
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.

During the takeoff, about 200 feet above the departure end of the runway, the engine lost total power, and the pilot elected to attempt a 180-degree turn back to a parallel taxiway near the runway. As the airplane descended in the turn, it impacted two un-occupied airplanes in a tie-down area located south of the runway. Examination of the wreckage revealed that when the fuel selector valve was selected to the "ON" position, and power was applied, the engine would lose power. When the fuel selector was selected 3/8-inches from the "OFF" position, the engine would run with no anomalies. The fuel valve was not manufactured with detents. A review of FAA-H-8083-3, Airplane Flying Handbook, revealed, "...If an actual engine failure should occur immediately after takeoff and before a safe maneuvering altitude is attained, it is usually inadvisable to attempt to turn back to the field from where the takeoff was made. Instead, it is safer to immediately establish the proper glide attitude, and select a field directly ahead or slightly to either side of the takeoff path."

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

The pilot's improper decision to perform a 180-degree turn with insufficient altitude remaining after experiencing a total loss of power. A factor related to the accident was the inadequate alignment of the fuel selector placard markings, resulting in an inaccurate selector position and the subsequent total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation.

Full narrative available

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