NTSB Identification: ERA12FA130
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, December 31, 2011 in Jacksonville, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/18/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-25-235, registration: N7408Z
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 flight was climbing out after picking up a banner. A security camera video showed the airplane climbing with the banner trailing behind before it disappeared from the camera’s view. Shortly after, witnesses observed the banner free falling to the ground and the airplane in a right spin before it impacted a parking lot in a nose-down attitude. Postaccident examination revealed no malfunctions or abnormalities that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane. The levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, also known as marijuana) and the Tetrahydrocannabinol Carboxylic Acid (THC metabolite) detected in the pilot’s blood during toxicological testing indicated that he had recently used THC. Although the investigation could not determine precisely when the pilot had last used THC, the levels detected indicated that the pilot was impaired and most likely posed a hazard to flight safety. Autopsy results also identified preexisting moderate-to-severe cardiomyopathy; however, there is no indication that this heart condition contributed to the accident.

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

The pilot's in-flight loss of control during climb after a banner pickup. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's impairment due to marijuana.

Full narrative available

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