On August 5, 2000, about 1000 Eastern Daylight Time, a Piper PA-18, N17080, was substantially damaged while making a precautionary landing at Francis S. Gabreski Airport (FOK), Westhampton, New York. The certificated commercial pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local banner-tow flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. The flight departed FOK about 0950, and picked up a banner several minutes later.

The pilot stated that when he picked up the banner, the tow rope became entangled around the airplane's rudder horn. He experienced a full right rudder deflection, and returned to FOK for landing. The pilot was unable to release the banner, and intentionally flew a steep descent angle in an attempt to land on the runway prior to the banner striking the ground. He added that during the landing, "I pull[ed] back on the yoke and added power too late to recover from my predicament." The airplane landed hard, and the main gear collapsed.

Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed substantial damage to the propeller, engine, and fuselage. With the exception of the entangled banner-tow rope around the rudder horn, the inspector did not observe any other discrepancies with the airplane.

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