NTSB Identification: LAX00LA083.
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Accident occurred Sunday, January 30, 2000 in TAFT, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/14/2001
Aircraft: Cessna 152, registration: N25573
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot became disoriented after encountering clouds near his destination airport and ran out of fuel while he was in the process of finding a place to land. The aircraft then nosed over after encountering soft soil during the forced landing. The pilot stated that he did not obtain a preflight weather briefing or in-flight weather advisories. The pilot said another pilot in the departure airport terminal obtained a weather briefing and told him the weather was good for now but that conditions would get worse around Los Angeles later in the day. Following departure, the flight was uneventful until he reached the high desert area north of his destination and he found that the coastal mountains between the high desert and his destination were obscured by clouds. He then decided to proceed to a VOR close to his destination in the hopes that the airport would be open. Upon reaching the VOR, the pilot could not find a clear route and elected to return to the high desert area and land at an airport there. He stated that after dialing in the VOR radial to take him to the alternate he became confused over the "TO/FROM" indicator and ended up flying in the wrong direction. When he realized where he was, he believed he did not have enough fuel to fly back over the mountains and was looking for an airport when he ran out of fuel. Review of NWS data disclosed that AIRMET Sierra was in effect at the time of the pilot's departure. The forecast called for occasional ceilings below 1,000 feet and visibility's below 3 miles in the coastal areas. Mountain obscuration in clouds, precipitation, and fog was also predicted for the coastal mountain ranges. The pilot stated that there were no mechanical malfunctions with the airframe or engine. The pilot obtained his private pilot certificate 10 days prior to the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's misinterpretation of his VOR navigation indicator, which subsequently led to his becoming lost and disoriented while navigating to an alternate airport and resulted in fuel exhaustion. The pilot's failure to obtain either a preflight weather briefing or in-flight weather advisories was a factor.

Full narrative available

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