NTSB Identification: SEA08LA192
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, August 31, 2008 in Camarillo, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/13/2009
Aircraft: PIPER PA-18-150, registration: N7482D
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

During a banner pickup maneuver, witnesses observed the airplane level off from the descent about 150 feet before the banner pickup loop, then rotate and catch the banner pickup loop with its main landing gear instead of the tail hook. Witnesses stated that as the banner started to lift, the pilot added full power and began a climbout at a 45-degree angle to an altitude of about 150 feet. The airplane was then observed to level off before the nose suddenly dropped to about a 30-to-45-degree nose-down attitude before impacting the ground. One of the pilots who witnessed the accident said that it appeared that the pilot might be trying to land straight ahead but did not level off prior to ground impact. According to company procedures, the pilot is expected to establish an approach speed of 80 to 85 mph, maintaining a 15 degree to 20 degree approach angle until the rotation point at the banner pickup loop, and establish full power before rotating. Rotation serves to swing the hook down and forward to snag the rope, as opposed to a flat approach that drags the hook across the rope. As the airplane rotates, the nose is to be raised approximately 20 degrees to 30 degrees above the horizon. At 150 feet, the power is pulled back and the airplane smoothly leveled off at an altitude of 200 feet where full power is then applied. A postaccident examination noted no preimpact anomalies with the airframe or engine which would have precluded normal operation.

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

The pilot's failure to fly the correct approach profile that resulted in the inadvertent pickup of a banner tow line with the airplane's main landing gear.

Full narrative available

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