On May 21, 2010, about 1615 Pacific daylight time (PDT), a Luscombe Silvaire Aircraft Company, S-LSA-8C, Special Light Sport Aircraft (SLSA), N599LS, crashed during takeoff in a field near Bakersfield, California, following a loss of engine power. The owner/pilot was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The certificated private pilot and one passenger sustained serious injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings, fuselage and tail section. The cross-country personal flight departed Riverside, California, about 1400 with a planned destination of Columbia, California. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

In his written statement, the pilot said that while en route and using the left fuel tank, he had difficulty with the fuel selector valve and the engine experienced a loss of power due to apparent fuel starvation. He landed in a field to investigate the problem.

Witnesses saw the airplane land and spoke with the pilot who related that he had a problem with the fuel selector switch. They saw the pilot working under the dash of the airplane and afterwords the pilot and passenger stated they were going to takeoff and fly to a nearby airport.

Witnesses in the area heard the accident airplane’s engine start up and then stop. The engine restarted and they watched as the airplane took off. Almost immediately after takeoff, it sounded like the engine lost power. The airplane was then observed turning back toward the departure point and appeared to “stall and [come] straight down.”

The pilot was transported to a local hospital, and due to his injuries, was not interviewed by investigators. The passenger was interviewed by police, and stated that the airplane had just been certified and was being flown to Columbia to attend the Luscombe Fly-in.

The passenger related that they had departed from Riverside with full fuel in both wing tanks, which hold 15 gallons each. About 1 hour into the flight, the engine started to lose power and the pilot was unable to switch fuel tanks. The pilot decided to make a precautionary landing in a field to troubleshoot the fuel selector valve. After landing safely, the pilot determined that the fuel valve selector had come loose. The pilot attempted to switch the fuel selector valve from the empty left tank to the full right tank. Believing he had accomplished switching the valve to the full right tank, the pilot and passenger decided they would fly to a nearby airport to finish the repairs.

The engine was started and appeared to be functioning properly. The passenger did not observe the pilot do any run up, or perform a magneto check prior to taking off. About 10 seconds after takeoff the engine started losing power. He saw that the pilot was making a turn back toward their departure point. The airplane continued to descend in a nose down, left turn until it struck the ground.

At the accident site there was a note pad recovered with two handwritten entries, one of which was “Mag switch not working properly,” the other was “Red Yellow Green Arcs.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) accident coordinator who responded to the accident site examined the fuel selector valve and assembly. He noted that the fuel selector valve shaft was sheared off. The FAA inspector further reported that the fuel valve was configured to draw fuel from the left fuel tank.

The airplane was a Special Light Sport Aircraft, Luscombe Silvaire Aircraft Company, Model S-LSA-8C, serial number SLS-003. A special flight permit and operating limitation for flight test was issued by a Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR) on May 20, 2009, for the accident airplane. The operator reported that the airplane had a total airframe time of .5 hours at the last inspection. The logbooks contained an entry for the inspection dated May 21, 2009. At the accident site the engine tachometer read 0001.82 hours.

A logbook entry dated May 21, 2009, listed the issuance of a Special Airworthiness Certificate and Operating Limitations by the Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR).

A review of the photographs taken by the DAR showed the airspeed color arcs were missing. Photographs of the airspeed indicator taken after the accident also showed that the airspeed color arcs were missing.

Certification for Special Light Sport Aircraft under ASTM Standards F-2245 require Airspeed indicator range markings.

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