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On June 12, 1993, about 1326 central standard time, N60366, a Cessna 150J operated by Horace Copeland, crashed in Niceville, Florida, while on a 14 CFR Part 91 banner towing flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The airplane was substantially damaged and the pilot received fatal injuries. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.
Witnesses stated the pilot had complained earlier in the day about power surges and momentary power losses, but he continued to fly. On takeoff after hooking the banner the engine was heard to lose power. The banner hit a tree and partially separated. The pilot jettisoned the rest of the banner and the engine was heard to quit. The airplane was observed to nose up, stall and nose over into the trees.
The pilot Joseph A. Kauffman was the holder of a commercial pilot's certificate #26272536, with ratings for airplane single engine land and instrument airplane. He also held a Class II medical certificate issued January 25, 1993, with no limitations. Additional personnel information is located within this report.
N60366 was a Cessna 150J, serial No. 15070257. A review of available logs indicated that the airplane had a total of 5,341 hours of logged time and the engine had a total of 3,565 hours of which the last 454 hours were since top overhaul. The last annual inspection of the engine and airplane was recorded to have been performed on June 9, 1993, about 5 flying hours before the accident. Additional aircraft information is located within this report.
The nearest weather recording station was located at Eglin Air Force Base about 8 miles southeast of the accident site. The weather at 1255 was: sky 4,500- foot scattered clouds, visibility 7 miles, temperature 90 degrees, dewpoint 70 degrees, wind from 190 degrees magnetic at 8 knots, altimeter 30.07 inHg. Witnesses stated the weather was substantially the same at the accident site.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The main wreckage on N60366 was located just south of the Ruckles Airport across a road in a wooded lot. The airplane was resting on the propeller and nose and the longitudinal axis of the airplane was almost vertical. Before removal for examination the fuel tanks were dipped with water disclosing paste on the end of a stick. The right tank indicated water was present and about 1/2 inch deep. The left tank was damaged and no fuel was present in the tank. The flight controls were examined and control continuity was established to all aerodynamic flight control surfaces. The banner hook was found open, and the remnants of the tow rope and a portion of the banner were found at the accident site. Two other portions of the banner were found, one in trees on the east side of the runway and one piece near the end of the runway. The airplane was removed to the airport and the engine was examined. Crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train continuity was established and a cold compression check was accomplished using 80 psi regulated shop air. The results were #1 62/80, #2 60/80, #3 61/80, #4 50/80. The fuel strainer was removed after rust and corrosion on the mount and drain were broken free. The inside of the strainer exhibited corrosion and sand, the screen was rusty and water was found in the fuel present in the strainer.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
A postmortem examination of the pilot was performed by Dr. Edmund R. Kielman on June 13, 1993, who reported the cause of death to be external exsanguination, due to massive bodily trauma. The results of toxicological examinations were negative for alcohol, basic and acetic drugs.
THe rescue and fire crews that responded to the accident were interviewed and they stated that no water was applied to the fuel tanks during their actions. On June 14, 1993 the wreckage of N60366 was released to Horace W. Copeland.