On February 26, 1998, at 1010 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172, N5593E, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near the Rutland State Airport, Rutland, Vermont. The certificated private pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that originated at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, at 0640. A visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

In a written statement and telephone interview, the pilot stated he performed his flight planning February 25, 1998. The pilot said:

"I planned a 250 nautical mile trip at a cruise speed of 100 knots. I planned on full fuel for a duration of 5 hours with a 45 minute reserve...Winds aloft were forecasted at 350 [degrees at] 44 [knots]. While I was on with the briefer, I filed my flight plan without changing my estimated time en route for the headwind."

The pilot said the airplane was on level ground when he performed his pre-flight inspection and the fuel level appeared full. During the flight, the pilot called Flight Service to amend his flight plan. He said he was forced to extend his estimated time en route due to the strong headwind.

When questioned about fuel management, the pilot responded: "En route I checked the tanks once or twice. The fuel drains faster out of the right tank. I went to the left tank until [the tanks] evened out. Then I went back to both...When I went to update the flight plan, I did not check the fuel."

The pilot said he was in cruise flight at 3,000 feet, 3 to 5 miles from the Rutland State airport, when the engine sputtered. He said he completed the engine restart procedure, but the engine only "windmilled," and then stopped completely. The pilot further stated:

"I ran out of fuel and had to set down in a field."

The pilot performed a forced landing to a field. During approach, the airplane "clipped" light brush and the tops of some small trees. The nose gear then collapsed during the landing roll.

A Federal Aviation Administration Inspector reported that less than 1 gallon of fuel was recovered from the wreckage.

The pilot reported there were no mechanical deficiencies with the airplane. He reported a total flight experience of 112 hours, of which 24 hours were in make and model.

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