The Cessna 150L pilot reported that, before departure, she checked the fuel gauges and estimated that the fuel tanks were just under 1/2 full and contained no less than 10 gallons of fuel. (The total fuel capacity was 26 gallons, of which 3.5 gallons were unusable.)
She was unable to measure the fuel because she had dropped the measuring stick into the fuel tank.
The flight departed the airport in Hopewell, Ala., and, about one hour, 15 minutes after departure and about 10 miles from the destination airport, the engine lost total power. She unsuccessfully tried to restart the engine and subsequently performed a forced landing to a field.
A post-accident examination revealed that the fuel tanks were not breached and that they contained a total of 1/2 gallon of fuel.
The pilot reported that, before departing the airport, she checked the weather, which indicated that wind aloft conditions were a left quartering headwind at 6 knots.
However, the wind aloft report from a station about 10 nautical miles from the accident indicated that the wind aloft conditions ranged from a quartering headwind of 10 to 35 knots depending on the altitude of flight, which increased the duration of the flight.
The pilot stated that the engine consumed about 4.4 to 5.6 gallons of fuel per hour, however, a review of the owner’s manual performance charts revealed that the engine could consume up to 7 gallons of fuel per hour.
Because of the headwind, the flight was one hour 15 minutes, which would have required up to 8.75 gallons of fuel; however, the pilot took off with about 6.5 to 8.5 gallons of usable fuel. It is likely the plane did not have enough fuel to reach the destination airport, and the engine lost total power as a result of fuel exhaustion.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion, which resulted from the pilot’s inadequate preflight inspection and preflight and inflight fuel planning that did not account for increased headwind.
NTSB Identification: ERA14LA048
This November 2013 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.