January 26, 2013, Atwater, Calif., Cessna 152


At about 1810 Pacific time, the airplane experienced a loss of engine power while on approach for landing. The pilot made a forced landing in an open field. During the landing rollout, the airplane struck a culvert and nosed over, coming to rest inverted. The solo student pilot was not injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to its tail section and wings. Visual conditions prevailed.

During his preflight inspection, the student observed each fuel tank was half-full. He flew for about 20 minutes, then became lost. After obtaining radar vectors back to his departure airport, the engine stopped. The pilot reported pitching for best glide speed but realized the airplane was too low to make it to the runway, so he decided to make a forced landing in an open field.

During the airplane’s recovery, the flight school’s chief pilot noted no smell of fuel present and that the fuel tanks had not been compromised. Once the airplane was righted, he was able to drain a total of one gallon of fuel—½ gallon from each wing’s fuel tank. According to the 1978 Cessna pilot’s operating handbook, the maximum of unusable fuel is 1.5 gallons.


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