On October 31, 2001, at 1350 eastern standard time, a Cessna 152, N93550, registered to the Flight School of Gwinnett, Inc., struck a berm during an off-airport landing in a field near Elberton, Georgia. The instructional flight was operated by the student pilot under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with no flight plan on file. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The airplane sustained substantial damage, and the student pilot was not injured. The solo cross-country flight departed Gwinnett County - Briscoe Field in Lawrenceville, Georgia, at 1200.

The student pilot was navigating by pilotage toward Elbert County - Patz Field, which was a planned landing destination on the student's round-trip flight. The student was cruising at 3,500 feet MSL and was unable to locate the airport. The student maintained visual contact with a prominent landmark, a dam, and flew around the area for about an hour looking for the airport. The student was able to identify the dam on the VFR sectional in flight and was aware that the airport was nearby. The student requested airport advisories on the Elbert County - Patz Field UNICOM, but stated no traffic responded on the radio, and no other airplanes could be seen flying in the area. The student did not know how to use available flight services or airplane's navigation equipment to obtain position information. The student decided to land in a field with the intention of studying the VFR sectional more closely, then take off from the field and proceed toward the airport. The student executed a soft-field landing in a plowed field, which had soft, shallow furrows and a dirt berm near the middle. During landing roll, the student did not see the berm, and the airplane struck it, nosed into the ground, and stopped abruptly.

The student pilot received a logbook endorsement by a certified flight instructor for the solo cross country flight. The student pilot's logbook showed 46 hours total flight time, with four-tenths of an hour total pilot-in-command (PIC) time. The PIC time was logged during one previous solo flight that consisted of three takeoffs and landings; the student had no other local solo practice.

Examination of the airplane revealed the nosegear had separated from the airplane, and the left wingtip displayed compression damage. There was wrinkling near the rear root assembly above the left wing flap, and the rear left wing spar was damaged. Fuel was observed in both wing tanks. There was no evidence of, nor did the student report, any mechanical defect.

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