On October 21, 1994, at 1535 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172, N7491X, piloted by Avi Sitbou, was substantially damaged during a forced landing at the Cherry Ridge Airport (N30), Honesdale, Pennsylvania. The student pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the flight operating under 14 CFR 91.

The airplane was on approach to runway 35, when the engine lost power. The pilot elected to make a forced landing in a field, south of the airport, and struck a rock wall.

According to the pilot's written statement on the NTSB Form 6120.1/2, prior to his flight in N7491X, a mechanic had "checked the plane and then someone flew the plane for approximately 12 minutes...." The pilot wrote that "before flying [he] performed the standard check list found in the plane." According to the pilot's written statement:

The gas tank indicator showed that the right tank was full and the left tank was half full at the time of the prior person's use.

The pilot wrote that he was airborne for approximately 24 minutes, and on the downwind leg, when "the engine started to choke." The pilot said he put the carburetor heat in the "off" position, and "got a couple more spins on the propeller." He was able turn onto the base leg, but the engine lost total power. The pilot realized that he would not reach the runway, and he elected to land in a field.

The FAA inspected the airplane's engine on October 24, 1994, and the engine revealed no discrepancies. FAA Inspector, Roderick Bourey, wrote in his statement that the checklist indicated that the fuel selector valve should have been selected to "both" tanks.

According to Inspector, Bourey's written statement, "...[the] carburetor showed only small traces of fuel...the left [fuel tank] showed about one gallon of fuel." The airport manager, Mr. Richard Enger, told Inspector Bourey, that he was at the scene of the accident, and he found the fuel selector on the left fuel tank, and the left fuel tank visually showed less then 1 gallon of fuel.


According to the Cessna 172B, manual, the fuel selector has four positions which are labeled "BOTH OFF," "LEFT TANK," "RIGHT TANK," and "BOTH ON." The Cessna Manual states, "The "BOTH ON" position provides fuel flow from both tanks simultaneously to provide maximum safety."

Section 2, Page 2-1, of the Cessna Manual, under the heading "BEFORE STARTING THE ENGINE," item #6, states the fuel selector should in the "BOTH ON" position. Likewise on Page 2-3, under the heading "BEFORE LANDING," ITEM #1, the fuel selector should be positioned to "BOTH ON."

A copy of the check list the pilot got from the airplane, and used for his pre-flight inspection, under item #1e, states, "Check the fuel shutoff valve "ON." There is no other reference to the fuel selector, either in the before starting engine, or the before landing section.

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