NTSB Identification: LAX05FA090.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, February 09, 2005 in Petaluma, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/25/2006
Aircraft: American AA1B, registration: N5704L
Injuries: 1 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.

The aircraft stalled, entered a spin, and descended to ground impact following a loss of engine power in the takeoff initial climb. During the climb out following a touch-and-go, the airplane's engine sputtered and backfired. The airplane made a low and tight downwind turn. The airplane paralleled the runway before it pitched nose up and entered a stall, which was followed by a nose down right-hand spin; the airplane then impacted a grass fairway on a golf course adjacent to the airport. Examination of the airframe revealed that the right-hand fuel tank contained very little fuel while the left fuel tank was half full. The fuel selector valve was positioned to the right-hand fuel tank. The carburetor bowl contained 5 milliliters of fuel, which is consistent with fuel starvation. The fuel selector valve handle was separated from the stem post and the fracture surface of the post at the selector handle interface is consistent with bending overload forces that would have occurred during the airframe's collision with terrain and buckling of the instrument panel. The fuel selector valve had not been lubricated in accordance with the manufacturer's recommended servicing instructions, which resulted in binding. The binding caused the fuel valve to require approximately three times the normal force to operate it.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain an adequate airspeed above the stall speed (Vso) while maneuvering to a landing area that resulted in a stall-spin. Factors in the accident were the fuel starvation induced loss of engine power due to the pilot's fuel system mismanagement, and the mechanical binding of the fuel selector valve due to inadequate maintenance.

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