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Student Pilot Loses Engine During Solo Flight And Nails The Emergency Landing

On May 22, Brian Parsley departed Concord, North Carolina in a 1968 Cessna 150J for a “solo long cross-country” flight. At about 2,200 feet above sea level and nine miles from his home airport’s runway, the engine of the Cessna sputtered to a stop. With only 1,500 feet of altitude to work with, there was no chance of making it to the airport, so he took it in for an emergency landing. ( More...

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Steven Talbott 21
The pilot as well as his instructors all deserve praise for their combined effort in getting that bird down safely. With only 1500 ft there isn't a lot of room for error and this gentleman nailed the important parts. Hats off to them!
I would fly with Brian , he remained calm and made all the right decisions .
tam nelson 1
Meeee toooo!
Paul Wisgerhof 36
As the old bromides go, "Any landing you can walk away from is a good one; it you can fly the airplane the next day it was excellent."
Words to live bye. Very well said.
sparkie624 24
Excellent Piloting Skills...
Kent Drotar 12
He did a great job considering the little amount of time/altitude he had! Good for him. Sure hope he keeps flying.
gilgraham 8
GREAT job especially for a student pilot. I wouldn't have fooled around with the transponder if already talking to ATC though. As my old instructor said as I was calculating fuel for a flight - "You can get further on fuel than you can on brains"!
rick SCOTT 22
From a guy who landed in a field due to engine failure, he did an amazing job! He remained calm and only cursed once, I curse more than that on a normal flight!
rdlink 19
He earned that "holy sh!t!"
Now if they bring him some gallons of avgas and let him fly on the the airport can he still log this as his solo cross country I wonder?
jptq63 1
I would figure that as long as that field was 50nm or more from the prior point of departure, it would still be considered a solo cross country. I never read (and as usually correct me if I am wrong, please noting the FAA reg) that one had to return to the same airport....
jptq63 1
Adding this link that I view supports the - IF MORE THAN 50nm -- from his departure location, then he can log this as a cross country. --- Link:
Kudos to that guy, We have all trained for these events during flight training, but to keep a cool head in a high stress situation is something different.
leodbailey 4
I remember my instructor, which was a airline pilot, putting me through that a lot! Go with rows in a plowed field!!etc!!
Ed Allen 4
FANTASTIC!!!! You are a true pilot!! Great job!!!!
John David 7
I posted this at You Tube, but I wanted to do so here as well...

Way to go Brian!
Absolutely outstanding in keeping your cool and in your decision making.
This video should be shown to all pilots whether they are student or seasoned flyers.
You're a natural and I'd be honoured to fly with you anytime, anywhere!
Frank Harvey 6
Never trust the gauges if you can dip the tanks. It used to be a lot easier to dip the tanks in a low wing Cherokee or Tomahawk than in a 152.
Sean Sims 5
He went in to this in the YouTube comments section. He said he doesn't trust the gauges and did dip the tanks. He said he was burning more fuel per hour than expected which lead to fuel exhaustion well before he had calculated.
patrick baker 5
doubtful that the engine burned enough extra fuel to exhaust the fuel tank. I might want to look closely for fuel leaks, now that is more beieivable
giannetti26 2
He did dip into the tanks but they were not full. There was 16.8 gallons in the tank when he took off. Should have requested a top off.
You can't get far on the fuel you left in the fuel truck, better to piss off a lineman asking for a top off than making someone carry out cans to a field.
You sure know a lot more than the rest of us. A real genius!
GraemeSmith 4
Yes well done for getting it into a field. But this should not have happened as presented.

On the basis of the video and the student's statement below in the video description - This is NOT "100% my fault" as the student states. His CFI signed off this trip and bears responsibility. "Done the trip before with CFI and not had a problem" points at something not being right this time. The Student was well trained for the emergency but not trained to lean and forgot to lean? There were more winds on the trip and the flight plan didn't get properly reviewed by the CFI who signed him off?

And notwithstanding jokes about Cessna gauges only being required to show empty - the LEFT fuel gauge still says there is fuel in the left tank. If there WAS still fuel in the left tank then something else happened. And if both tanks were actually out of usable fuel - then the left gauge is not set up correctly. So the plane wasn't airworthy.

And I'm NOT being a "noodge" (though I am sure some will think I am). Look beyond the student statement that it was 100% his fault - there are other factors in play here and the wrong - or at least an incomplete - conclusion is being drawn. On the basis of the information presented
Colin Seftel 6
This is what the pilot himself reported on You Tube (
It was fuel exhaustion but not because of neglect. The flight was flown before with instructor. It carries 22.5 gallons of useable fuel and fly 2.8 hours. That would've been 16.8 Gallons with plenty of reserve. The plane was burning basically 7 Gallons an hour to run out. The only thing two mechanics agree on is what the third mechanic is doing wrong. So, folks that are involved believe it was either burning too much or leak someone. And never do I even look/use the gauge as a reference. I physically check and touch fuel to ensure topped off at pre-flight.
GraemeSmith 7
Interesting - there are two versions of the video out there. And one doesn't include the "de-brief". My comments were based on the "non-de-brief" version.

So revisiting it having watched the de-brief version - there is still no analysis of why he ran out of fuel. There remains a fundamental unexplained issue about why that happened.
giannetti26 2
Because he didn’t top off before leaving Concord. Fueling records show that the plane was last refilled days before and after a previous flight. Tanks were not full.
Haven Rich 0
There is no requirement for fuel gauge calibration. They only need to read empty when there is no useable fuel.
GraemeSmith 3
Nope - that is NOT true. It's a commonly held view but not correct. It hinges on folks understanding of the reg that it must read empty when all USABLE fuel is exhausted and so people extrapolate it to mean it only has to read empty when empty. But the actual regs and court interpretations are:

91.205(b)(9) "fuel gauge indicating the quantity of fuel in each tank." The NTSB ruled in Administrator v. Hammerstrand (1992) that an unreliable fuel gauge rendered the aircraft unairworthy. In that case the fuel gauge gave erratic non-zero readings.

and certification standards - fuel indicator:

(b) Fuel quantity indicator. There must be a means to indicate to the flightcrew members the quantity of usable fuel in each tank during flight. An indicator calibrated in appropriate units and clearly marked to indicate those units must be used. In addition--
(1) Each fuel quantity indicator must be calibrated to read "zero" during level flight when the quantity of fuel remaining in the tank is equal to the unusable fuel supply determined under


regarding ANY equipment (and so a fuel tank indicator):

Each item of installed equipment must--
(a) Be of a kind and design appropriate to its intended function;
(b) Be labeled as to its identification, function, or operating limitations, or any applicable combination of these factors;
(c) Be installed according to limitations specified for that equipment; and
(d) Function properly when installed


Now I'm not 100% sure about a 150J - as the Type Certificates last a Loooong time - it might have been certified under the older CAR3 rules but they say the same thing.


Given that the left tank gauge was showing that there was SOME fuel in the tank and there plane ran out - it probably wasn't "airworthy".


And to give Brian some benefit of the doubt here - his left gauge was not showing empty. So he had a reasonable expectation that he had some fuel left - even if he didn't and even if he was cutting it a bit fine.
Jasper Buck 1
The Type Certificate Data Sheet (3A19) for ALL Cessna 150s says...

"Certification Basis: Part 3 of the Civil Air Regulations dated May 15, 1956, as amended by 3-4."

The 150 is NOT a part 23 airplane.


J Buck
FAA Inspector (Ret.)
Jasper Buck 1
The Type Certificate Data Sheet (3A19) for ALL Cessna 150s says...

"Certification Basis: Part 3 of the Civil Air Regulations dated May 15, 1956, as amended by 3-4."

The 150 is NOT a part 23 airplane.


J Buck
FAA Inspector (Ret.)
Marie Hammond 2
Wow..that was awesome, keep flying
Mark Skipper 2
Good work, lucky the Air Force did not show up with 7500 Ident
NICE job!!!
Colin Seftel 1
The pilot has recorded a full commentary and debrief here:
Good job!
Dick Sherman 1
Great job, Brian! Impressive
You can thank a teacher (CFI) for that.
WOW amazing good thing he wasn't over a busy city. Those empty fields came in handy.
thank god nobody got hurt nice job kid
SWEET landing. Couldn't have been any better if he had a perfect engine and a concrete strip. This kid has earned his wings.
He was mid field ! just kidding I have no idea... I screamed into the Mic during during my first departure solo, I was so proud :) Sorry Tower ..
A. Highsmith 1
What a great job. He had his cross check going while at the same time remaining calm and identifying a place to land. He did not have to slip or make turns to loose any altitude and he pegged it. In Army flight school (fixed wing) we were given forced landings constantly. He probably had one, maybe two to practice before the real thing. You have to keep a landing place in mind all the time and he did. Well done.
Under control very calm and great landing Well Done
George Pepe 1
I think he should earn an A in emergencies.
janmakka 1
Having watched the debrief video in the main news article he hoped we could see the amount of stress he was under.
To me it looked like he did this every day he seemed so calm.
Job well done Mr Parsley.
Ronil Prakash 1
Very Good Landing.!!
Dolly Bailey 1
Awesome! My cousin is learning how to fly in France! I wish this video could be in French! Thank you fir posting as I am not a pilot but I do think this is quite incredible and congratulations!
Man you gotta watch your fuel. Engine failure caused by fuel starvation.
Gabriel Amado 1
Someone should go check the maintenance logs of that flight school…
giannetti26 1
First, definitely heck of job landing the plane given the circumstances. However, this is mislabeled as an engine failure vs. engine failure due to fuel starvation. This student pilot failed to properly plan his long XC including topping off the plane before he took off, and failed once more to put any fuel in the plane when he stopped at KFLO (intermediary points on the XC). Easiest way to avoid this type of situation is proper flight planning including checking to see if you have enough gas!
M20ExecDriver 0
Good instructor AND student.
DracoVolantis -4
I don't understand why this is even news. Isn't EVERY pilot suppose to "nail" emergency landings? Aren't these things what we're trained for? Isn't the solo flight an acknowledgement by the instructor that the student pilot is capable to handle emergencies with good judgement? Or maybe today they train pilots differently than they did thirty years ago, maybe now they focus on how not to get lost using the GPS or how to use flight planning software? idk...
Kent Drotar 7
Dang. Pretty harsh. Yes, pilots, even soloing students, are supposed to be trained for such an occurrence. But not all emergency landings are walked away from. And not every emergency landing can be "nailed". Fly safe.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Colin Seftel 12
The pilot says that he had switched the camera on just before the engine cut, so that his instructor could review his approach and landing.
Who would deliberately do a dead-stick landing in a park just for the sake of a recording?
Wouldn't the FAA get annoyed at influencers staging fake emergency landings in fields? And they'd find out pretty quick...
darjr26 1
I found it interesting that a camera was zoomed in on the tach just as he “lost” his engine.
Colin Seftel 1
You can do that with editing software.
Mike Monk -1
The pilot should have called a PAN instead of describing his pending fuel starvation.
He did not appear to go through basic checks like carb heat or mixture or fuel setting. When the engine stopped he should have called a MAYDAY. He did not trim for best cruise. He did not appear to show any concern, there was not even the slightest hint of panic. And contrary to the written article there was no sign of terrain problems
Mike Monk 3
The field was there as if 'on cue'.
jptq63 1
Given he was already talking to ATC (see AIM chapter 6 Section 1.2.2 and 14 CFR 91.3 - Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command. ) and ATC already acknowledged his emergency, I do not think any -- MAY DAY – call required as duplication. Yep, lots of stuff I had to look up for reference; glad the kid did not bother to worry about this and just acted to make the best possible landing....


Section 1. General (AIM – Link: )

1. Pilot Responsibility and Authority

1. The pilot-in-command of an aircraft is directly responsible for and is the final authority as to the operation of that aircraft. In an emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot-in-command may deviate from any rule in 14 CFR Part 91, Subpart A, General, and Subpart B, Flight Rules, to the extent required to meet that emergency.

In the event of a pilot incapacitation, an Emergency Autoland system or an emergency descent system may assume operation of the aircraft and deviate to meet that emergency.


14 CFR Section 91.3(b).

2.If the emergency authority of 14 CFR Section 91.3(b) is used to deviate from the provisions of an ATC clearance, the pilot-in-command must notify ATC as soon as possible and obtain an amended clearance.

3.Unless deviation is necessary under the emergency authority of 14 CFR Section 91.3, pilots of IFR flights experiencing two‐way radio communications failure are expected to adhere to the procedures prescribed under “IFR operations, two‐way radio communications failure.”

14 CFR Section 91.185.

2. Emergency Condition- Request Assistance Immediately

1.An emergency can be either a distress or urgency condition as defined in the Pilot/Controller Glossary. Pilots do not hesitate to declare an emergency when they are faced with distress conditions such as fire, mechanical failure, or structural damage. However, some are reluctant to report an urgency condition when they encounter situations which may not be immediately perilous, but are potentially catastrophic. An aircraft is in at least an urgency condition the moment the pilot becomes doubtful about position, fuel endurance, weather, or any other condition that could adversely affect flight safety. This is the time to ask for help, not after the situation has developed into a distress condition.

2. Pilots who become apprehensive for their safety for any reason should request assistance immediately. Ready and willing help is available in the form of radio, radar, direction finding stations and other aircraft. Delay has caused accidents and cost lives. Safety is not a luxury! Take action!


14 CFR § 91.3 - Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command.

91.3 Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command.

(a) The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.

(b) In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot in command may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.

(c) Each pilot in command who deviates from a rule under paragraph (b) of this section shall, upon the request of the Administrator, send a written report of that deviation to the Administrator.
Jasper Buck 1
Actually if you look in the AIM Pan-Pan is an international radio-telephony urgency signal. When repeated three times, indicates uncertainty or alert followed by the nature of the
urgency. Not appropriate in this incident.


J Buck
FAA Inspector (Ret.)
Dr Evil 1
Why don't you try reading the story before making repeated ignorant comments:

He DID try carb heat which he said only momentarily seemed to improved things.
He DID set up for best glide speed of 60kts, unlike your genius advice of trimming for
"best cruise" with a dead engine.

Quit posting false stuff. You don't know what you're talking about!
Mike Monk 3
Yes, Dr Evil, I noticed the mistake just after I had submitted my comment but this forum does not allow editing nor does it allow me to delete which, had it done so, I would have been able to delete, correct and re-submit.
Anyway, that aside; my mistake was a mere word which to most people would have been understood for what it was... a mistake!
Dr Evil 2
Yes I agree with you -- I've followed this site for a long time but never posted until the other day and like you, I discovered that you cannot edit or delete your own posts.

That's ridiculous -- total BS. I emailed them and they said to give them the URL and they could delete it but users can't. I've never seen any kind of discussion board that didn't allow users to edit or delete their own posts and I told them it was ridiculous.

I had intended to edit mine and tone it down because upon reflection I thought I was being a little harsh with you. I quickly discovered to my surprise that I couldn't do that.

So for me the solution is that I will not be posting here anymore unless they add edit/delete features.
jptq63 1
Recovering from our mistakes matters more than the mistake itself. I know I've made a few myself.


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