On November 18, 1997, about 1042 eastern standard time, a Cessna 152, N68327, registered to Air Lease, Inc., operating as a 14 CFR 91 instructional flight, crashed about 4 miles west of Palatka, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and a VFR flight plan had been filed. The aircraft was substantially damaged, and the student pilot sustained minor injuries. The flight originated from Gainesville, Florida, about 30 minutes before the accident.

The student pilot stated he was returning from his solo cross-country flight and during cruise, at an altitude of 2,500 feet, engine rpm decayed from 2,500 to 2,000. He applied full throttle, but the rpm decayed further to 1,500 momentarily, and then the engine quit. He initiated a forced landing in a swamp area, and the aircraft came to rest in an upright and tail high attitude, minus the nose gear that had been sheared.

According to the FAA inspector's report, engine oil covered the fuselage left side and belly, as well as the horizontal stabilizer. The oil service access door had popped open and the cap/dipstick assembly was found about 3 feet forward of the aircraft. The threads to the cap/dipstick were not damaged. The engine oil sump was found empty.

The chief flight instructor for Philair stated the pilot was given instruction previously for a problem with dipstick securing, and on the accident day had a repeat problem during his aircraft preflight. He did return to the flight school for additional advice, but for some reason departed without it.

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