On August 15, 2001, at 1320 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 150M, N704SE, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to an Interstate highway in Cincinnati, Ohio. The certificated private pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that originated at the Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport, Portsmouth, Ohio. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

In a written statement, the pilot said he departed Lunken Field Airport in Cincinnati, for a cross-country flight to Portsmouth, Ohio, with a direct return to Lunken Field. He said:

"I did one touch and go at Portsmouth and then headed back to Lunken. It took about an hour to get back and I had descended to 1,500 [feet] to enter the downwind leg for [runway] 21L. When I got to 1,500 [feet] the plane sputtered and I lost power.

"I quickly went full throttle and checked mixture in (rich) and then I checked the gas gauge - just below half tanks right side, and just below [one quarter] tank left side. I did not know what the problem was, but I had no power."

The pilot said he declared an emergency and elected to perform the forced landing to the Interstate. During the landing roll, the airplane struck a road sign.

During a telephone interview, the pilot was asked to describe the events prior to and during the flight. He said he performed a preflight inspection of the airplane, but departed Lunken Field with an undetermined amount of fuel. The pilot said:

"I know what I did wrong. I looked in the tanks, and there was fuel in the tanks. Then I looked at the gauges. Well, the gauges were messed up so when the engine started to die on me, I didn't know what it was. I should have topped it off before I left, but I didn't."

Examination of aircraft records and the airplane's hobbs meter revealed that the pilot logged 2.3 hours on the meter.

The airplane was removed from the scene under the supervision of a Federal Aviation Administration Aviation Safety (FAA) inspector. The airplane was taken to Lunken Field and examined by the inspector.

During a telephone interview, the inspector stated that examination of the airplane revealed no pre-accident anomalies. He said the fuel system was intact with no leaks or damage noted. The inspector drained the fuel system, and collected 1 gallon of fuel.

The inspector said he then serviced both tanks with 5 gallons of fuel and started the engine. He said the engine started immediately and ran without interruption. The inspector said the engine accelerated and decelerated smoothly and that "all engine checks were normal."

In a subsequent written statement, the pilot said:

"I should not have trusted my fuel gauges and I should have had the tanks topped off so that I knew for sure how much fuel I had."

The pilot reported 142 hours of flight experience, 64 hours of which were in make and model. The pilot's most recent (FAA) second-class medical certificate was issued on January 29, 1999.

According to the Cessna 150 Owner's Manual, the airplane had a fuel capacity of 26 gallons, 3.5 gallons of which were unusable.

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