This May 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: Opelousas, La. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: When the commercial pilot departed, the plane had approximately 15 gallons of fuel on board. The flight was uneventful until the plane was on approach to the destination airport. At an altitude of 500 feet AGL, the engine lost power. The pilot made a forced landing in a muddy field north of the runway. On touchdown the nose gear sank into the mud and collapsed.
An on-scene inspection of the fuel tanks indicated 2-1/2 gallons in the left tank and 1 gallon in the right tank. The aircraft manual states 1-1/2 gallons of fuel is unusable in the tanks.
Probable cause: A total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion as a result of the pilot’s failure to refuel the airplane prior to flight.
For more information: NTSB.Gov