NTSB Identification: DFW05FA058.
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Accident occurred Thursday, January 20, 2005 in Abernathy, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/08/2005
Aircraft: Beech J-35, registration: N399RH
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

A witness observed the airplane flying at an altitude of approximately 1,000 feet agl with its landing gear and flaps extended on a downwind leg to land at an adjacent airport. When it was abeam the north end of the runway, it began to descend below 500 feet agl in a northerly direction. The airplane then made a descending right turn toward a southerly heading. Subsequently, the witness observed the right wing impact the ground. Within seconds after the airplane came to rest, it was engulfed in flames. The right main fuel tank was ruptured and destroyed by fire. The right auxiliary tank contained residual fuel that was blue in color. The fuel cap was secure, and the finger strainer was free of debris. The left main fuel tank contained approximately 3/4-inch of blue fuel. The left auxiliary tank contained approximately two inches of blue fuel. The fuel cap was secure, and the finger strainer was free of debris. The fuel selector was found in the "auxiliary" fuel tanks position. The fuel screen in the fuel selector was clear of debris and installed with the cone upward. An engine examination was performed under the supervision of the NTSB at a nearby maintenance facility. The engine was rotated by hand at the crankshaft and valve train continuity and piston movement were verified on all six cylinders. No defects or anomalies were found with the engine that could have precluded normal engine operation. The fuel pump was removed and did not contain any fuel. The fuel screen was free of debris. A review of the before landing checklist in the airplane flight manual revealed that prior to landing, the fuel selector must be positioned to the "MAIN TANK MORE NEARLY FULL."

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

The pilot's improper positioning of the fuel tank selector, which resulted in fuel starvation and a subsequent loss of engine power while maneuvering.

Full narrative available

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