CHI02LA187
CHI02LA187

On July 10, 2002, at 1030 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 152, N621AF, piloted by a student pilot, was substantially damaged when it nosed over during a forced landing into a field near Gregory, Michigan, following a complete loss of engine power. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 and was not on a flight plan. The pilot did not report any injuries. The flight departed Oakland County International Airport (PTK), Pontiac, Michigan, approximately 0830 that morning.

The pilot's written statement notes he "got disoriented. The last place I knew I was was just west of Pontiac airport. I could not find where I was on my map or VOR tracking, so I then contacted Pontiac tower... . They located me from contacting Flint and told me to climb to 4,500 ft to get the VOR reading. I did this and realized where I was. I then started to head back realizing I was very low on fuel. My plan was to land at Howell but I ran out of fuel before then. As soon as I realized I had lost fuel, I picked a spot to land and went through emergency procedure. I called PTK and told them I was going down.... It was very soft ground, so I ended up flipping the aircraft several times."

Review of air traffic control (ATC) communications indicate that PTK tower became aware that N621AF was unsure of his position at 0956. Due to weak communications between the tower and the accident aircraft, instructions were relayed at times through an intermediate airplane in the local area. Efforts by the pilot to pick up the Pontiac VOR (PSI) were initially unsuccessful.

The following summary of ATC communications with the aircraft was compiled by an NTSB Air Traffic Control Specialist. Indicated times are local (edt).

0946:09 Initial call up from accident aircraft (N621AF) to PTK tower;

0946:35 Tower responds and N621AF reports 9 miles northeast;

0948:11 Tower says he does not see N621AF. Sees a primary target
11 northeast, "Is that you?" tower inquires.;

0949:05 Pilot reports at 2,500 feet;

0953:30 Tower makes multiple calls to N621AF with no response;

0955:35 N621AF making weak transmissions.;

0956:02 N116 [an intermediate aircraft in the local area] offers
to relay communications. States N621AF is a student pilot,
unsure of his position, at 2,500 feet heading north.;

0957:00 N116 relays (to PTK tower) that N621AF is lost in practice area.;

1000:00 Tower to N116: Ask [N621AF] pilot to try to pick up Pontiac (PSI) VOR.;

1002:07 N621AF reports unable to receive PSI VOR;

1003:10 N116 asks if N621AF can see Flint (FNT). N621AF replies "No".;

1004:10 Tower requests transponder (squawk) code from Detroit Tracon (DTW);

1005:07 N621AF reports an airport in sight and inquires if it could be FNT.;

1005:35 N621AF states "No, that's not Flint";

1005:46 Tower asks pilot to be sure the transponder on and is set to proper code;

1006:24 Pilot reports over an airport at 4,000 feet, trying to figure out
which it is. N116 asks if tower wants pilot to land there.
No response. Tower is on phone line with DTW. Another
pilot tries to get tower attention. Tower says he's got it
handled. Tower never replies about landing at airport
[really Jackson (JXN)].;

1008:00 Pilot reports there's a VOR on the field. Tower thinks it's
Port Huron.;

1009:13 N116 says it could be Jackson (JXN). No response from tower.;

1009:37 Pilot reports it has runways 24 and 14;

1009:45 Tower asking DTW about Port Huron's and Ann Arbor's
runway configuration;

1010:40 N116 suggests tuning to JXN VOR.;

1012:00 Pilot picks up PSI VOR, and starts tracking to it on the 060
degree radial. DTW informs PTK that JXN runway configuration
is 24 and 14. N116 states that he believes N621AF is over JXN.;

1017:55 N621AF has direct contact with PTK tower again;

1022:23 Tower asks fuel status. N621AF reports 1/4 tank;

1026:15 N621AF reports engine problems;

1026:51 N621AF reports lost engine;

1027:42 N116 giving advice (best glide, flaps up, …);

1028:29 N621AF reports a field in sight and setting up for a forced landing.


FAA order 7110.65, Air Traffic Control, specifies procedures and practices to be used by ATC personnel. Section 10-1-1(a) states that "An emergency can be either a Distress or an Urgency condition as defined in the 'Pilot/Controller Glossary' ". The Pilot/Controller Glossary defines "Urgency" as "A condition of being concerned about safety and of requiring timely but not immediate assistance; a potential distress condition."

Section 10-2-1(a)(b) specifies information to be obtained in order to adequately provide emergency assistance. It states: "Minimum required information for inflight emergencies is: 1) Aircraft identification and type; 2) Nature of emergency; and 3) Pilot's desires." It goes on to note: "After initiating action, obtain the following items ... as necessary: 1) Aircraft altitude; 2) Fuel remaining in time; ... 5) Time and place of last known position; 6) Heading since last known position; 7) Airspeed; 8) Navigation equipment capability; 9) NAVAID signals received; 10) visible landmarks.

The pilot held a student pilot certificate and third class medical issued on April 2, 2002. He reported 75 hours total time, of which 24 hours was solo flight time. All of his flight time was in the same make and model aircraft as the accident aircraft.

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