On April 5, 1997, at 1431 hours Pacific standard time, a Cessna 170B, N2294D, owned and operated by the pilot, experienced a total loss of engine power during initial climb from a road near the Mesquite Springs Campground, about 50 miles north of Furnace Creek in the Death Valley National Park, California. During the forced landing the airplane was substantially damaged. The private pilot received minor injuries, and the passenger was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight which originated from Henderson, Nevada, at 1015. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the pilot, after departing from Henderson the fuel selector was set to the "both" tanks position. However, during the flight fuel appeared to have been mostly used from the right tank. The pilot stated that to equalize the burn off he repositioned the fuel selector to the left tank only position. The fuel continued to be used out of the right tank, and the engine quit when the right fuel tank gauge registered empty and the left tank gauge registered 3/4 full. The pilot made a forced landing on a road.
The pilot reported he then inspected his airplane (which was manufactured in 1952) and noted the fuel selector handle was "real loose." He further reported that he manually siphoned between 12 and 15 gallons of fuel out of the left tank and poured it into the right tank. He and his wife then took off. Several seconds into the takeoff climb, between 100 and 150 feet above ground level, all engine power was lost again. Unable to return to the road, the pilot made a forced landing on rough terrain.
The cockpit fuel tank selector assembly was subsequently examined. The tank selector handle shaft was found disconnected at its attachment to the fuel valve assembly.