Saturday, October 24, 2020

Piper J3C-65 Cub, N98615: Accident occurred October 23, 2020 near Gillespie Field Airport (KSEE), San Diego, California

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Diego, California

Location: El Cajon, CA 
Accident Number: WPR21LA022
Date & Time: October 23, 2020, 15:51 Local 
Registration: N98615
Aircraft: Piper J3C-65 
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under:

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper 
Registration: N98615
Model/Series: J3C-65 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: 
Altimeter Setting:
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 32.821582,-116.92928 (est)


BOSTONIA, California – The pilot of a light airplane that apparently ran out of fuel while on approach to Gillespie Field made a safe emergency landing Friday afternoon in a playground at an elementary school just east of the airport.

The Piper J3C-65 Cub landed on a playing field at W. D. Hall Elementary School in the 1300 block of Pepper Drive shortly before 4 p.m. according to sheriff’s officials and Federal Aviation Administration.

No children were on the campus at the time of the landing and no injuries were reported.

The pilot, Charles Wells, told investigators he had to make the emergency landing because his plane out of fuel, according to the FAA.

EL CAJON, California - The pilot of a small plane made an emergency landing at a field and playground next to W. D. Hall Elementary School in El Cajon.

The emergency landing happened around 4 p.m. Friday.

The pilot says he took from Gillespie Field for a practice flight and was headed back to Gillespie for a landing when he ran out of fuel. He says his engine stopped, and he had to look for a place to land. He was able to glide onto the field safely.

The plane hit a fence on the way down causing damage to a wing.

The pilot says he has been flying for decades.

No injuries were reported.


  1. Not good running out of fuel but great job of landing in a 500' field

  2. Wow, check out Google Maps below, the school is surrounded by nothing but development. The only really open space between the school and the runway are two big hills! Thank goodness he was flying a Cub!

  3. Been flying for decades, says he ran out of fuel. Shame to bend the plane for lack of fuel reserve.

  4. I owned and flew a Cub for 23 years. There is a "wire" with a cork attached that is used to gage fuel quantity in tank. The more "wire" you see - the more fuel you have. The "wire" is visible at all times in the pilot's forward field of view. Not like you have to climb ladder to "stick" a wing tank. Amazes me how some Cub pilots manage to run out of fuel...

  5. Good job putting it down in a nearly un-landable space, bad job on completely basic fundamental fuel management there captain....


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