On March 2, 1997, at 1600 eastern standard time, a Beech J-35 Bonanza, N88AA, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following an aborted landing at the Sky Manor Airport (N40) near Pittstown, New Jersey. The certificated private pilot and commercial pilot rated flight instructor were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed. The local flight originated at Morristown, New Jersey at approximately 1430, and was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

In a telephone interview and in the NTSB Form 6120.1/2, the pilot reported that while he was performing the before landing checks in preparation for landing at Sky Manor, he moved the fuel selector from the right main position to the left main position; however he did not visually confirm the position of the fuel selector because of its placement in the cockpit. He stated, "The pilot has to move his (left) leg and bend over to look at it."

The pilot reported, "There was no indication of turbulence during the approach but when over the numbers the plane dropped and bounced. I was uncomfortable with the situation and called for a go-around." The pilot reported that during the initial climb of the aborted landing, the engine lost power as the gear retracted. He stated that the airplane landed back on the runway and came to rest 50 feet from the departure end.

The pilot reported that when he went back in the airplane to turn the fuel selector off, he "..was amazed..." he found the fuel selector in the auxiliary position. The pilot stated, "The Bonanza Manual states not to use auxiliaries for take-off as there is a possibility they could unport."

In the Operator/Owner Safety Recommendation section of the Pilot/Operator Report the pilot stated, "Although fuel selector location does not lend itself to a visual check, I feel a visual confirmation of fuel selector location should be a mandatory part of my checklist..."

According to the limitations section of the Beechcraft Pilot's Operating Handbook for the J-35 Bonanza, "Use auxiliary fuel in level flight only and do not use for take off or landing."

The pilot did not report any mechanical deficiencies and an inspection of the airplane by Federal Aviation Administration Safety Inspectors revealed no pre-impact anomalies.

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