According to the pilot, whose plan it was to fly around the local area for about 45 minutes, he attempted to switch to an auxiliary fuel tank in order to maintain a specific amount of fuel in each main tank. But while moving the fuel tank selector lever, he inadvertently turned the fuel selector to the OFF position. Soon thereafter the engine lost power, and the pilot moved the selector back to the left main tank. He then expected the windmilling engine to start running again, but because he forgot to activate the fuel wobble-pump, the engine did not restart. Because he was over water, he donned a floatation vest and flew the aircraft to a power-off landing on the water's surface. After ditching, the pilot exited the aircraft, and was soon thereafter picked up by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fishing ship. According to the pilot, there did not seem to be any problems with the aircraft's fuel system or engine.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:The pilot's inadvertent selection of the incorrect fuel tank selector position (OFF) while in cruise flight over open water, and his failure to activate the fuel wobble-pump. A contributing factor was the unsuitable terrain.
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