On September 20, 1998, about 1910 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172D, N2482U, was substantially damaged during a forced landing after takeoff from the Bowman Field Airport (LOU), Louisville, Kentucky. The certificated student pilot (SP)was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the supervised solo flight which departed LOU. The instructional flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

In a telephone interview, the SP stated he arrived at the airport for a dual instructional fight. Before the flight, he performed a preflight inspection of the airplane and visually noted that the fuel tanks were about 1/4 to 3/8 full. He then departed with a certified flight instructor (CFI) for a 45 minute flight, and returned to LOU. After the flight, the CFI authorized the SP to perform his first solo flight. They both exited the airplane and went into the fixed base operator (FBO) office to complete some paper work. The SP then went back to the airplane and departed, while the instructor observed. The SP stated he did not perform a preflight check of the airplane before the solo flight. During the initial climb, after the SP's first touch and go landing, the airplane's engine sputtered and lost power. The airplane touched back down onto the runway; however, there was insufficient runway remaining to stop, and the airplane impacted a fence

Examination of the wreckage was performed by a Federal Aviation Administration Inspector. The fuel tank caps were in place and the fuel tanks were "empty." There was no apparent damage to the tanks and no evidence of fuel leakage. Additionally, the fuel line to the engine did not contain any evidence of fuel.

According to the airplane's operating manual, the airplane's total fuel capacity was 42 gallons, of which 41 gallons were usable. According to the FBO, the airplane had flown for 5.1 hours since being topped off. The CFI stated the airplane's average fuel consumption was 8 gallons per hour.

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