On January 25, 2002, about 1315 eastern standard time, a Cessna 182L, N182JM, registered to Aerolease of America, Inc., operating as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, crashed while attempting a forced landing in the vicinity of Boca Raton, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The aircraft received substantial damage, and the commercially-rated pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. The aircraft departed Pompano Beach Airpark about 15 minutes before the accident.

According to the pilot, on his return trip to his home base of Wellington Aero Club Airport near West Palm Beach, his engine surged and lost power. He chose an uninhabited north-bound lane of the Florida Turnpike for a forced landing. The left wing impacted a road sign during the landing rollout, causing substantial damage. The pilot stated he did not observe wing tank fuel level before departure. He stated that about 50 gallons must have been siphoned from his tanks while parked at his home base.

According to an FAA inspector, the sign collision damaged the wing leading edge about 2 to 3 feet inboard of the wing tip. The collision caused deformation of the left wing spar, a wing rib, and the false front spar. Neither wing fuel tank was breached and about 1.5 to 2.5 gallons of 100 octane LL was the total fuel found in the aircraft. The fuel was removed from the aircraft at the time the salvager removed the wings for transport to a locked and secured salvage and storage facility at Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

On February 7, 2002, at the storage facility where N182JM was transported to and stored, the NTSB observed the aircraft engine start from its own battery source. Also observed was the fuel removed from N182JM, postcrash, and the amount measured out to be 2.5 gallons. The engine was operated at about 2,000 rpm for about 10 minutes. Engine operation was smooth and responsive to cockpit controls. According to the Cessna 182L type certificate data sheets, the unusable fuel is 30 pounds or about 5.1 gallons.

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