This March 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 150. Injuries: None. Location: Columbia, Miss. Aircraft damage:
What reportedly happened: The pilot held a private pilot certificate and had accumulated 858 hours of flight experience, 12 hours of which were in the Cessna 150. The pilot flew a cross-country flight, two hours in duration, making stops at two airports. At the second stop he added 10 gallons of fuel to the airplane and observed that the quantity of fuel in the tanks was about 1 and ½ inches from the top of the fuel tank. The pilot flew approximately one hour, dropped off a passenger, and then departed for the return flight to his home airport. He did not refuel, or look in the fuel tanks to confirm the fuel quantity before the last departure. The pilot said he relied mostly on his fuel gauges, which indicated half-full and three-quarters full, to confirm that he had adequate fuel for the flight. While on final approach to the home airport, the airplane’s engine lost power and the pilot performed a forced landing.
Post-accident examination of the airplane revealed that the right fuel tank was empty and the left fuel tank contained only a trace of fuel. Less than a pint of fuel was drained from the gascolator. No mechanical failures were reported by the pilot or found during the investigation. The pilot reported he conducted the flights with the mixture control in the full rich position. The Pilot’s Operating Handbook for the aircraft instructs the pilot to lean the fuel mixture for better fuel economy while in cruise flight.
Probable cause: A loss of engine power in flight due to fuel exhaustion as a result of the pilot’s inadequate preflight and in-flight fuel planning.
For more information: NTSB.gov