NTSB Identification: WPR12CA400
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, September 04, 2012 in Lancaster, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/05/2012
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32-300, registration: N308DF
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 student pilot was flying solo back to her home airport after completing a lesson with a flight instructor. Before the flight instructor exited the airplane, the student pilot verified that the right main fuel tank was selected and full. However, as the airplane climbed through about 700 feet above ground level, the engine began to sputter. The student pilot checked the ignition switch and turned on the boost pump. She elected to land straight ahead in an empty field rather than try to turn back to the runway and made a soft field, power-off landing. During the landing roll, the right main landing gear began to sink into a furrow. The airplane’s nose gear collapsed, resulting in damage to the firewall. The student stated that the fuel selector valve had been problematic due to the lightness of the stop between the right main and the right wing tip positions. On previous occasions, she had noticed that it could be inadvertently moved from the right main to the tip, and had developed a method of planting her hand before selecting the right main so as to prevent the selector from moving through the stop to the right tip. After the accident, she verified that the fuel selector was in the right tip tank position, and that tank was empty.

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

The student pilot’s inadvertent selection of an empty fuel tank.

Full narrative available

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