NTSB Identification: CHI04CA108.
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Accident occurred Thursday, April 22, 2004 in Minneapolis, MN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/30/2004
Aircraft: Piper PA-18-150, registration: N82943
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airplane impacted a power pole and trees during a forced landing after a loss of engine power during initial climb. According to the pilot, prior to the accident flight the airplane was completely fueled and fuel samples he took during the aircraft preflight were not contaminated with water. The pilot stated the airplane was taxied on the right main fuel tank, and he switched to the left fuel tank prior to takeoff as required by the pilot operating handbook. The pilot reported that he experienced an uneventful takeoff ground run, rotation, and initial climb until approximately 150 feet above ground level (agl) when the engine lost power suddenly. The pilot reported he switched fuel tank positions, verified the magneto switch was on both, and the throttle and mixture controls were fully advanced. The pilot reported, "Because of the suddenness and completeness of the loss of [engine] power, I suspected either fuel starvation or an ignition problem." The pilot stated, "I changed the tank selector at least two more times, and got ready to crash." The pilot stated that a landing on the departure runway was not an option and he maneuvered the airplane in between two houses prior to striking a power pole and several trees. A first responder reported the fuel selector was found in the "off" position upon his arrival at the accident site. The pilot reportedly said he did not reposition the fuel selector after the accident. The engine was subjected to an operational test-run. The engine started without hesitation and ran at idle power (~700 rpm) without any anomalies. The engine responded to brief throttle increases (~1,200 rpm) prior to being shutdown. The engine was not run above 1,200 rpm due to a damaged propeller.

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

The pilot not verifying the position of the fuel selector prior to the takeoff, resulting in the loss of engine power during initial climb due to fuel starvation. Factors to the accident were the power pole and the trees.

Full narrative available

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