NTSB Identification: NYC08LA311
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, September 08, 2008 in Hackettstown, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/11/2010
Aircraft: MOONEY M20J, registration: N301KC
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On the day of the accident, the pilot completed two uneventful positioning flight legs before refueling. The pilot added fuel to the right wing tank only, since the left tank was still full. In his subsequent preflight inspection, he drained some fuel from the gascolator, and obtained and examined a fuel sample from the right tank drain, without noting any anomalies. The pilot did not capture a sample when he drained the gascolator, since the gascolator drain was activated from the cockpit. The pilot’s procedure was contrary to the instructions in the pilot’s operating handbook, which stated to sample the fuel from the gascolator drain. Engine start, taxi, and engine run-up, all of which were conducted using the right tank, were normal. The takeoff roll and initial climb were normal, but when the airplane was approximately 25 feet above the runway, the engine "quit dead." The pilot performed an emergency landing in the grass alongside the runway, and the airplane was stopped by trees beyond the runway end. Postaccident fuel samples yielded several ounces of water each from the right tank, gascolator, and engine fuel line. No other anomalies were noted with the airplane or engine. No water or other contaminants were found in the airport fuel storage tank or dispensing system, and no problems were reported by the operators of any aircraft that were fueled from the airport storage tank on the same day as the accident airplane.

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

The pilot's failure to adhere to the airplane manufacturer's published preflight inspection procedures, enabling water to remain undetected in the fuel system, which resulted in a complete loss of engine power immediately after takeoff.

Full narrative available

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