This January 2008 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: None. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: Prior to departure the pilot fueled the airplane to full tanks. He planned for his flight to take approximately three hours. His past experience led him to estimate a four-hour endurance for the airplane. After approximately 2.7 hours in the air, the engine began to run rough. The pilot diverted to a nearby airport. The engine continued to lose power. The pilot realized that the airplane would not be able to glide to the airport and decided to land in a field. The landing was a success.
After landing, the pilot observed that the left fuel tank was empty. The right fuel tank contained fuel, and its fuel gauge indicated 1/4 tank full. The pilot was able to get more fuel for the airplane. He then initiated a takeoff from the unimproved field. During the attempted takeoff, the airplane hit a rut in the grass and nosed over.
Probable cause: The pilot’s improper decision to takeoff from an inadequate field after a forced landing.
For more information: NTSB.gov