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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: NYC02LA181
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Tuesday, September 03, 2002 in Belmar, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/30/2003
Aircraft: Piper PA-18, registration: N5428H
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The banner towing airplane was being positioned to another airport. After takeoff, the airplane engine lost power. Unsuitable terrain limited the pilot's options, and he struck a chain link fence during a forced landing. Examination revealed low compression in the engine, with air bypass on all exhaust valves, and evidence of detonation. The airplane had 3 fuel tanks, each of which held 18 gallons, and two of which contained uncontaminated fuel. One tank contained fuel to which Marvel Mystery Oil had been added. The fuel was pink in color and had an oily feel. The FAA reported that they found an empty can of Marvel Mystery Oil in the operator's trash. The recommended ratio for the additive to fuel was 1 part additive to 100 parts fuel. The operator did not have any specific instructions on how or when to add the Marvel Mystery Oil, or what ratio to use. The pilot, chief pilot, and manager all denied adding the substance to the fuel. In addition, the manager reported that he interviewed the maintenance personnel and they denied adding the Marvel Mystery Oil to the fuel.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The improper use of an fuel additive which resulted in a power loss. A factor was the lack of suitable terrain.