Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Fuel Starvation: STOL CH 701 SP, N41XY; accident occurred June 26, 2021 near Rogers Field Airport (O05), Chester, Plumas County, California

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Reno, Nevada

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Chester, California
Accident Number: WPR21LA248
Date and Time: June 26, 2021, 13:30 Local 
Registration: N41XY
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel starvation 
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The pilot reported that, during the initial climb, the engine sputtered and he discovered that the fuel valve lever was in the OFF position. He moved the fuel selector and fuel pump levers to ON, but the engine lost complete power. The pilot then elected to conduct a forced landing to a marsh field, during which the airplane touched down hard, nosed over, and came to rest inverted. The right wing and the rudder sustained substantial damage. The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s failure to properly position of the fuel selector valve, which resulted in a loss of engine power during initial climb due to fuel starvation.


Aircraft Fuel selector/shutoff valve - Incorrect use/operation
Personnel issues Use of checklist - Pilot

Factual Information

History of Flight

Initial climb Fuel starvation (Defining event)
Initial climb Loss of engine power (total)
Initial climb Collision during takeoff/land

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private 
Age: 60, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land 
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present:
Instructor Rating(s): None 
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: July 3, 2020
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: November 27, 2020
Flight Time: (Estimated) 173 hours (Total, all aircraft), 167 hours (Total, this make and model), 146 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 29 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 15 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: DEWSNUP DAVE 
Registration: N41XY
Model/Series: ZENAIR CH 701 SP 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2003
Amateur Built:
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental (Special) 
Serial Number: 7-9394
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle 
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 100 hour 
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1100 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 
Engine Manufacturer: Rotax
ELT: Installed, activated
Engine Model/Series: 914UL
Registered Owner:
Rated Power: 115 Horsepower
Operator: On file 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC)
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KSVE, 4149 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 31 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 13:15 Local
Direction from Accident Site: 79°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting:
Temperature/Dew Point:
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Chico, CA (CIC)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Chester, CA (O05)
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 12:15 Local
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: ROGERS FLD O05
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 4534 ft msl
Runway Surface Condition: Soft; Vegetation
Runway Used: 16/34
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5020 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 40.282361,-121.24116

A private pilot walked away from a forced emergency landing resulting in a crash just before 2 p.m. Saturday, June 26, in Plumas County.

The pilot said that he took off in a Zenair STOL CH 701 SP from the Rogers Field Airport just before 2, reached an altitude of 1300 feet and then began encountering engine problems, which he believed was due to a fuel issue.

He attempted an emergency landing in a large meadow just east of the Chester city limits, landing near the landmark structure known as Olsen Barn.

Due to roughness of the meadow, the plane flipped over on landing, but was able to be righted by emergency personnel on the scene. 

The Plumas County Sheriff and a U.S. Forest service fire crew responded to the incident, and reported the pilot sustained no injuries. 

The pilot, who declined to give his name, said only that he felt lucky to have been able to reach the meadow.

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