Accident Piper PA-25-260 Pawnee D N454AB,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 313746
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Date:Thursday 25 May 2023
Type:Silhouette image of generic PA25 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Piper PA-25-260 Pawnee D
Owner/operator:Aerial Banners North Inc
Registration: N454AB
MSN: 25-7556048
Year of manufacture:1974
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:Hollywood-North Perry Airport (HWO/KHWO), North Perry, FL -   United States of America
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Nature:Banner and glider towing
Departure airport:Hollywood-North Perry Airport, FL (HWO/KHWO)
Destination airport:Hollywood-North Perry Airport, FL (HWO/KHWO)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Information verified through data from accident investigation authorities
On May 25, 2023, about 1209 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-25-260, N454AB, operated by Aerial Banners North Inc. was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Hollywood, Florida. The commercial pilot was seriously injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 banner tow flight.

According to the operator’s director of ground operations, who supervised the flight from the banner pickup point and communicated with the operator’s airplanes with a handheld radio, he pilot took off from runway 10L at North Perry Airport (HWO), Hollywood, Florida around 11:55 for a scheduled 12 o’clock banner tow flight.

The pilot did his first pass in the banner box for hook deployment and verification of that hook. He then missed on his first three attempts to pick up the banner. All seemed normal (airspeed & altitude) to the director, but he noticed that the pilot was making his crosswind turns earlier than where he was supposed to (over taxiway Delta).

There had been a change for his scheduled banner tow and the director needed to assign him another banner to fly which was already set up and ready for him. He relayed that information to him via radio and told him to go around and fly his approach on a different lane than the previous one that was assigned to him. All seemed “fine and normal,” regarding the airplane’s airspeed and altitude.

The pilot proceeded to approach to pick the banner and missed again, and this time, he hit the right cone of the lane with the hook on the climb out. The director was a couple of feet from his lane, where he usually stood, and advised the pilot that he missed on his attempt to pick up the banner. The director then took a couple of steps towards the pick lane to fix the cone, and as he turned to watch the airplane, he observed that it was at an approximate altitude of 100 feet above ground level in a “spin” towards the ground where it then “crashed.”

According to a commercial-rated pilot with banner towing experience, she observed the accident from about 1,000 feet away while riding as a passenger in a car that her husband was driving. As they approached the banner tow pickup area, they saw the towplane come in to pick up a banner. As they watched, the towplane dived with the grappling hook out behind it for a normal-looking pick-up heading east. The hook failed to catch the rope attached to the banner, and then the towplane pitched up to about 50 feet in altitude and then started a steep banked climbing turn to the left. The airplane then rolled wings level flying westbound at approximately 200 feet in altitude, as it approached their car. Moments later the left wing suddenly dropped and the towplane pitched nose down, rotating to the left in a spin. It rotated 180 degrees and then impacted the ground, almost horizontal in about a 20-degree nose down attitude.

Review of preliminary Automatic Dependent Surveillance Beacon data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed that the pilot had flown a progressively tighter pattern on each attempted banner pickup prior to the accident.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA first-class medical certificate was issued on January 10, 2023. On that date, the pilot had reported that he had accrued approximately 821 total hours of flight experience.

Company records indicated that the pilot was hired on November 14, 2022. He had completed 60 hours of classroom, ground, and flight training, along with several written and practical examinations. The records also indicated that he had been flying on a regular basis with the company since being hired.

According to FAA and maintenance records, the airplane was manufactured in 1974 and was powered by a Lycoming O-540-G1A5, 260-horsepower engine. The airplane’s most recent annual inspection was completed on March 6, 2023, at 95731.1 total hours of operation.

Examination of the cockpit indicated that both magneto switches were in the “ON” position, The electric boost pump was “ON,” the throttle was full forward, the mixture was full rich, and the carburetor heat control knob was in the “OFF” position. The vertical speed indicator needle indicated about 300 feet per minute down.

Examination of the propeller revealed that the propeller had separated from the engine. The fracture surface signatures were consistent with torsional overload. One blade of the two-blade propeller displayed, S-bending, leading-edge gouging, and chordwise scratching. The other blade displayed curling on the outer portion and about 4-inches of the tip had separated from the rest of the blade.

Examination of the engine revealed that there was oil in the rocker boxes, galleries, and sump. Continuity was established from the front of the engine to the rear gears. Both magnetos were functional and fired when tested. Thumb compression and suction was present on all cylinders. the carburetor jets were clear, the carburetor floats were devoid of fuel, and the float valve assembly was functional.

The carburetor bowl contained trace amounts of fuel. Testing of the fuel in the carburetor bowl revealed no evidence of contamination. Examination of the fuel strainer also revealed that it was full of fuel, had some debris (in the bottom of the strainer bowl outside the screen), and when the fuel was tested, it also revealed no evidence of contamination. The screens for the electric boost pump, fuel strainer, and carburetor were clean.

Examination of the pitch control system revealed that continuity could be established from the control stick in the cockpit, through the breaks in the system to the elevator. Examination of the roll control system also revealed that continuity could be established from the control stick in the cockpit, through the breaks in the system to the ailerons. Examination of the yaw control system revealed that continuity could be established from the rudder pedals in the cockpit, to the left rudder control horn, but could not be established to the right rudder control horn.

Examination of the rudder control horn revealed that it was fractured. Further examination also revealed that the face of the fracture displayed corrosion.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.


NTSB (photo)

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: ERA23LA245
Status: Preliminary report
Download report: Preliminary report
Other occurrences involving this aircraft

12 August 2010 N254AB Aerial Banners Inc 0 St. Petersburg, FL sub
Fuel exhaustion
31 August 2014 N254AB Advertising Air Force 1 South of Albert Whitted Airport (KSPG), St Petersburg, Florida sub
Loss of control
22 December 2017 N454AB 0 Biscayne Bay, Miami Beach, FL unk

Revision history:

25-May-2023 16:45 Captain Adam Added
29-May-2023 10:35 Iceman 29 Updated [Embed code]
29-May-2023 10:36 Iceman 29 Updated [Damage]
15-Jun-2023 10:04 Captain Adam Updated [Time, Source, Embed code, Damage, Narrative, Category, Accident report]

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