NTSB Identification: NYC00FA183.
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Accident occurred Monday, July 03, 2000 in LAKEWOOD, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/06/2001
Aircraft: Champion 7GCAA, registration: N8384V
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot was completing his supervised training for banner-tow operations. The airplane was configured with a single seat, and dual flight instruction was not possible. Therefore, the pilot was in radio contact with an employee of the operator, located on the ground near the pick-up area. The employee provided guidance and supervision to the pilot per the training curriculum. A witness was monitoring the radio communication frequency that the pilot was using. After the pilot picked up a banner, the witness heard him report that he had a full right rudder deflection. The employee of the operator told the pilot to land. Another witness saw the airplane making a left turn back toward the airport, consistent with a left downwind and base leg pattern for the runway. While on the base leg, the airplane stalled to the left and impacted the ground. Examination of the wreckage revealed that the banner-tow rope was entangled around the airplane's rudder horn. Although the hook was in the release position, the banner was still attached to the airplane. Additionally, the airplane was not equipped with a stall warning system. According to the operator, the pilot had a total flight experience of approximately 515 hours, of which, about 10 hours were conducting banner-tow operations in the accident airplane. The operator added that it was possible for pilots to control and land an airplane with a tow rope entangled around the rudder horn, and tow rope entanglements were addressed during training.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's failure to maintain airspeed, resulting in an inadvertent stall. Factors were the entanglement of the tow rope with the rudder horn, restricted rudder movement, the pilot's lack of total experience in the type of operation, and no stall warning system installed on the airplane.

Full narrative available

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