NTSB Identification: WPR13LA106
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, January 26, 2013 in Atwater, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA 152, registration: N68757
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On January 26, 2013, about 1810 Pacific standard time, a Cessna 152, N68757, experienced a loss of engine power while on approach for landing on runway 31 at Castle Airport (MER), Atwater, California. The pilot made a forced landing about 3 miles west of the airport in an open field; during the landing rollout, the airplane struck a culvert and nosed over, coming to rest inverted. The student pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. Sierra Academy of Aeronautics operated the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the tail section and wings. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local area flight, and no flight plan had been filed. The flight departed from MER about 1630.

According to the student’s written statement, he performed a weight and balance calculation and a preflight of the airplane, which included an addition of 4 quarts of oil. He also reported checking the fuel and observing that each fuel tank was 1/2 full. He flew for about 20 minutes, and then became lost. The pilot contacted NorCal approach (Northern California Terminal Radar Approach Control) for assistance back to MER. He contacted MER tower, and then reported that the engine stopped. The pilot advised tower personnel that the engine had failed and he did not have the airport insight. Tower personnel, provide him with a heading to the airport, and he located the airport. The pilot reported that he pitched for best glide speed, and realized that the airplane was too low to make it to the runway, so he decided to make a forced landing in an open field.

The flight school was given permission to recover the airplane to their facility. An interview with the chief pilot revealed that upon his arrival at the accident site, he noted no smell of fuel present and that the fuel tanks had not been compromised. Once the airplane was righted, he was able to drain a total of 1 gallon of fuel; ½ gallon from each wing's fuel tank.

According to the 1978 Cessna pilot’s operating handbook, the maximum of unusable fuel is 1.5 gallons.

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