On April 7, 1994, about 1056 eastern daylight time, N2834M, a Piper PA-12, registered to and operated by Banner Dragon Inc., crashed at Merritt Island, Florida, while on a 14 CFR Part 91 banner tow flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The flight originated from Merritt Island Airport about 10 minutes before the accident.

The pilot's groundcrew chief stated that she observed the airplane dive to pick up the banner bridle and missed it. She stated she observed the banner hook hit the ground, bounce and wrap around the tail of the airplane. She then radioed the pilot of her observations and he replied he understood them with his callsign. The crewchief and other witnesses then observed the airplane climb, attempt to level, and then roll left. The airplane nosed down and continued to roll left until impact.


The pilot was the holder of a commercial pilot's certificate with a rating for single engine land airplanes. He also held a Class II medical certificate, dated March 30, 1994, with a limitation that the holder wear corrective lenses. A set of eyeglasses was found in the cockpit after the accident. Additional information is located in this report.


The nearest weather recording and reporting station was at Melbourne Regional Airport about 20 miles south of the accident scene. Additional weather information is located elsewhere in this report.


The wreckage on N2834M was located in a mangrove swamp along the side of the airport, about 200 yards from the grass area along runway 11/29 on the south side. The main cabin, engine, propeller and wings were on land with the tail partially in water. The airplane was resting on a magnetic heading of about 360 degrees. The banner tow rope was found wrapped around the left upper tail flying wire and jammed in between the stabilizer and the elevator at the ring fitting. The tow rope other end was found disconnected from the airplane and the jettison mechanism was found open. The propeller exhibited minor leading edge damage to the blades and one blade exhibited some torsional twisting. The engine was not further examined due to the close proximity of the witness who stated it was running until impact. The rest of the flight controls were examined and control continuity was established for all aerodynamic flight controls.


A postmortem examination of the pilot was conducted by Dr. D. J. Wickham on April 8, 1994. Dr. Wickham reported the cause of death to be laceration of the brain and multiple blunt trauma injuries. Toxicological examination of specimens was conducted both by the Medical Examiners office and the Civil Aeromedical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the results were negative for alcohol, basic and acetic drugs. Caffeine was present in the urine.


The wreckage of N2834M was released to Mr. Joe Jones, representing the owner's insurance company on April 8, 1994.

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