On July 15, 2001, about 1712 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 182, N2815R, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Warren, Ohio. The certificated commercial pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the aerial photography flight that originated from the Newark-Heath Airport (VTA), Newark, Ohio, destined for Meadville, Pennsylvania. No flight plan was filed, and the flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot, he landed at Newark, and requested fuel. After the airplane was serviced, the pilot preflighted the airplane to included visually inspecting both fuel tanks. Both tanks were filled to the "caps." The pilot boarded the airplane, started the engine, and taxied to runway 27. The pilot checked the magnetos and the carburetor heat. Both were found fully functional. The airplane then departed about 1110, turned to the south and climbed to 1,000 feet agl. Within 10 minutes, the pilot was in the target area. He slowed the airplane to 69 mph indicated airspeed, and selected the carburetor heat to "ON." He did not lean the mixture, because he would be operating the airplane around 1,000 feet agl, at slow airspeed, and may need full power.

The pilot then spent about 5 hours maneuvering and taking photographs. About 1600, the pilot configured the airplane for "normal" cruise and proceeded towards Meadville. About 1 hour later and while operating approximately 1,000 feet agl, the pilot experienced a sudden loss of engine power. The propeller continued to windmill, but the engine never showed any signs of regaining power. The pilot identified a field to the front right of the airplane, and while maneuvering for the field, he moved the fuel selector from "LEFT" to "BOTH" to "LEFT," and then back to "BOTH," the engine did not regain power. He did not select the right tank. The pilot initially selected 40 degrees of flaps, but reconfigured the airplane to 20 degrees, because he needed to "slip" the airplane to make the field.

The airplane touched down, and the pilot applied the brakes, but found them ineffective on the loose dirt. Unable to stop the airplane prior to reaching the end of the field, he maneuvered it so the nose would go between two trees. The wings impacted the trees, and the airplane came to a stop upright, and approximately level.

Prior to the loss of power, the left fuel gauge indicated approximately 1/4 of a tank, and the right indicated empty. Also prior to the loss of power, the pilot yawed the airplane to verify there was fuel in the left tank. During the maneuver, the gauge fluctuated from 1/4 to 1/2.

The pilot added that he has flown aerial photography flights in the accident airplane that lasted 6 hour and 30 minutes, with 1 hour and 30 minutes of that being in the cruise configuration. Afterwards, the airplane would have 20 gallons of fuel onboard.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration inspector that examined the airplane the day after the accident, the fuel selector was in the both position, but the detent was "very weak." The left fuel tank was intact, and when the left fuel cap was removed, no fuel vapors were identified. A stick was then used to check the tank; once again no fuel was identified. The inspector then rocked the wing, and listened for the sound of fuel sloshing, which he did not hear.

The right tank, which was also intact, had approximately 1 inch of fuel in it, and when the inspector removed the cap he immediately saw fuel vapors escaping from the tank. When the electrical master was selected to "ON," the left fuel gauge indicated about 1/16. The right fuel gauge indicated empty. A rotational force was applied to the propeller and the inspector did not identify any mechanical anomalies with the engine.

The inspector added that 2 days after the accident, a mechanic that was hired by the operator to provide an estimate for recovering the airplane went to the scene, and per the inspector request, drained the fuel from the airplane. The mechanic reported to the inspector that he trained 9 gallons of fuel from each tank.

According to the airplane owner's manual, the stall speed with power off and flaps up was approximately 56 mph indicated airspeed. The stall speed for 20 degrees of flaps was approximately 41 mph indicated airspeed.

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