On January 30, 2000, at 1558 hours Pacific standard time, a Cessna 152, N25573, nosed over during a forced landing in a field near Taft, California. The forced landing was precipitated by a total loss of engine power while in cruise flight. The aircraft was operated by Group 3 Aviation of Van Nuys, California, and rented by the pilot for a personal cross-country flight. The airplane sustained substantial damage; however, neither the private pilot nor his one passenger was injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated at the Bullhead City, Arizona, airport on the day of the accident at 1330 mountain standard time as a non-stop cross-country to Van Nuys.

According to the Kern County Sheriff's Department report, the pilot told responding deputies that he overshot the Van Nuys Airport, and when he realized where he was, he did not have enough fuel to make it back to that airport. He was in the process of finding a place to land when he ran out of fuel. Initially he was trying to land on a road but had insufficient altitude and airspeed, so he landed in a field. The aircraft then nosed over after encountering soft soil during the landing roll.

The pilot was interviewed by telephone on February 2, 2000. He stated that he did not obtain a preflight weather briefing or in-flight weather advisories. The pilot said another pilot in the terminal at Bullhead City obtained a weather briefing and told him the weather was good for now but that conditions would get worse around Los Angeles later in the day. Following departure from Bullhead City, the flight was uneventful until he reached the high desert area around Palmdale, which is north of the greater Los Angeles Basin. The pilot said that when he reached Palmdale he could see that the coastal mountains separating the high desert from Los Angeles were obscured by clouds. He then decided to proceed to the Lake Hughes VOR to see if a path was open to Van Nuys. Upon reaching the VOR, the pilot could not find a clear route and elected to return to the Palmdale area and land at the Lancaster airport. He stated that after dialing in the VOR radial to take him to Lancaster he became confused over the "TO/FROM" indicator and ended up flying in the wrong direction. When he realized where he was he believed he did not have enough fuel to fly back over the mountains and was looking for the Taft airport when he ran out of fuel.

Review of National Weather Service data disclosed that AIRMET Sierra was in effect at the time of the pilot's departure from Bullhead City and was valid until 0200 on January 31, 2000. The forecast called for occasional ceilings below 1,000 feet and visibility's below 3 miles in the coastal areas. Mountain obscuration in clouds, precipitation, and fog was also predicted for the coastal mountain ranges.

The pilot stated that there were no mechanical malfunctions with the airframe or engine.

According to Federal Aviation Administration Airman Records, the pilot obtained his private pilot certificate 10 days prior to the accident.

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