NTSB Identification: WPR10LA119
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, January 25, 2010 in La Quinta, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/16/2011
Injuries: 2 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.

The pilot conducted a preflight inspection of the airplane, which included taking samples of fuel from the airframe fuel sump drains. He noted no evidence of water within these fuel samples. While en route to his destination, the pilot decided to switch the fuel supply to come from the left tank rather than the right, in an effort to remedy a slight fuel imbalance. Shortly after changing the tank selection, the engine experienced a total loss of power. Despite multiple attempts, the pilot was unable to restart the engine and initiated a forced landing to a nearby field. The pilot stated that, due to a headwind, he was unable to reach his original intended landing area and decided on a second field, closer to his position. As the airplane approached the field, it stalled and landed hard.

During a postaccident examination of the airframe, investigators applied compressed air to both the left and right wing fuel inlet lines and observed a small amount of liquid originating from the engine inlet fuel line at the firewall. The liquid was tested using water finding paste with positive results. No additional anomalies were noted with the airframe that would have precluded normal operation. Examination of the engine revealed that the engine-driven fuel pump contained residual liquid. The liquid was tested using water finding paste with positive results. In addition, the carburetors were examined and disassembled; a white paste-like and flaky substance was noted within both carburetor float bowls. One carburetor float bowl contained about two ounces of a milky white liquid, which tested positive for water. The engine was installed on an engine test stand and run at various rpm settings before being shut off using the mixture control lever. No additional anomalies were noted with the engine that would have precluded normal operation and production of power.

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

A loss of engine power during cruise flight due to water contamination in the fuel.

Full narrative available

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