Lost student makes emergency landing

This August 2007 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Cessna 152.

Location: Labelle, Fla.

Injuries: 1 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to make her first solo cross-country VFR flight. She intended to fly to two airports then return to the departure point. She knew the airplane had an endurance of about three and a half hours. She got lost.

Attempts to navigate using VORs was unsuccessful. Concerned about running out of fuel, she decided to make an emergency landing in a grass field. The grass in the field was taller than it looked on approach. The wheels snagged in the vegetation and the airplane ended up on its side.

An FAA inspector who responded to the accident scene stated the right fuel tank was empty. The left tank contained about two inches of fuel. There was no spilled fuel at the scene.

Probable cause: The student pilot’s poor management of the flight and attempted precautionary landing in unsuitable terrain, which resulted in damage to the airplane during the landing.

For more information: NTSB.gov/NTSB/brief2.asp?ev_id=20071019X01623&NTSBno=MIA07CA134&akey=1.

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