On August 20, 1994, at 2218 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 172N, N739VY, operated by Aero Haven, Inc., Big Bear City, California, experienced a total loss of engine power during cruise flight over Simi Valley, California. The student pilot made a forced landing on a city street. During rollout, the airplane collided head-on with an occupied automobile. The pilot was not injured. The automobile driver received minor injuries, and the passenger was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a VFR flight plan had been filed, but not activated during the solo instructional flight.

The pilot indicated to the National Transportation Safety Board that, two days before the accident flight, he had flown a 3.0- hour solo cross-country flight. Following that flight he had not received any dual instruction.

The pilot's flight instructor reported to the Safety Board that prior to taking off for the accident flight, the student had submitted to the operator a copy of his proposed flight plan log for the operator's review and approval. The student's flight plan indicated that he proposed flying from Big Bear City to Laughlin, Nevada, to Blythe, California, to Parker, Arizona, to Palm Springs, Ca., and finally back to Big Bear City. The anticipated en route flight time was about 3.3 hours. No indication of the pilot's ground time was shown on the flight plan form.

The student pilot reported that, although he planned to takeoff from Big Bear City at 1415, he did not complete his preflight planning until about 1500. Flight school personnel reviewed his proposed flight log and allowed him to initiate the cross-country flight. The pilot departed Big Bear City around 1505. Thereafter, the pilot flew the planned course and arrived at Palm Springs at 1927. The pilot further reported that he purchased 10 gallons of fuel (5 gallons per tank) prior to taking off from Palm Springs for the anticipated 32-mile direct flight back to Big Bear City.

According to air traffic control personnel, the pilot departed from Palm Springs at 1950. The pilot reported to the Safety Board that en route to Big Bear City it became dark. The clock in the airplane was not working properly, the cabin dome light was inoperative, and he was unfamiliar with the light system. Also, despite his efforts, he was not successful at obtaining navigating assistance from anyone using the airplane's radio. The pilot had no previous night flying experience. The pilot stated he was unable to locate Big Bear City, so he headed west toward city lights. After flying for about 2.5 hours, the engine began to "sputter." Thereafter, all engine power was lost, and he made an emergency landing on a city street in the Simi Valley (about 100 miles west of Big Bear City).

An operations inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reviewed the student pilot's FAA-approved flight school training records, and found them "deficient." In pertinent part, the inspector reported that the student's flight instructor had not followed the authorized syllabus, had not recorded flight instruction between the administration of the second- and third- phase checks, and had not provided the student with nighttime flight training prior to assigning the student to perform a solo cross-country flight.

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