This January 2009 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. Injuries: None. Location: Titusville, Fla. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The Cessna was on final approach to land at the end of a 4.2-hour cross-country flight, which included 11 touch-and-go landings at the end. The pilot reported that during the last circuit around the airport traffic pattern the fuel gauges showed that the right fuel tank was a quarter full and the left fuel tank was less than one-fourth full. The airplane was 400 feet above the ground when the engine lost power. The airplane came down in trees short of the runway.
An FAA inspector examined the airplane at the scene and noted no evidence of fuel spillage. After the airplane was recovered, approximately three to four ounces of fuel were drained from all of the fuel drains. The airplane was serviced with two gallons of fuel and the engine was successfully operated.
Probable cause: A loss of engine power during approach due to fuel exhaustion as a result of the pilot’s inadequate fuel planning.
For more information: NTSB.gov