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N260WB accident description

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Crash location 27.642500°N, 82.520834°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Palmetto, FL
27.521427°N, 82.572319°W
8.9 miles away

Tail number N260WB
Accident date 06 Jun 2002
Aircraft type Cessna 172H
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On June 6, 2002, at 1955 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172H, N260WB, registered to and operated by Florida Aerial Advertising, collided with the ground as the pilot maneuvered shortly after releasing a banner at the Pursley Sod Farm near Palmetto, Florida. The banner-towing flight operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR 91 with no flight plan filed. Visual weather conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The airplane sustained substantial damage, and the commercial pilot was fatally injured. According to the operator, the flight was scheduled to depart the staging airstrip in Palmetto, Florida, at 1830 on June 6, 2002.

The operator reported that the pilot was scheduled to over-fly a nearby school with an aerial message at 1900. Neither the operator nor others were present at the staging area when the pilot started and completed the assigned flight. According to the owner, the pilot had completed 33.26 hours of dual and 7.42 hours of solo flight training flying banners. The day of the accident was the pilot's first day flying solo for compensation.

After the pilot and airplane failed to arrive at the hangar facility at the St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport, a search was initiated for the missing airplane. The downed airplane was located in an open field at the staging area. The banner was located in an adjacent field southeast of the airplane wreckage. There was no reported radio contact between the pilot and St. Petersburg /Clearwater International Airport after the flight departed controlled airspace.


The pilot was certified as a commercial pilot on December 17, 2001 with ratings of single engine land, multi-engine land and instrument airplane. The pilot held a first class medical certificate issued on December 3, 2001 with no restrictions. The pilot had accumulated approximately 400 hours of flight time, but since his flight logbook was not recovered the exact experience in the Cess172 was not determined.


Review of maintenance records revealed that the last 100-hour inspection of N260WB occurred May 31, 2002 at tachometer time 5333.4. The engine had previously been changed from a Continental 0-300-D to a Lycoming 0-360-A4M with a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC). The engine found on the airplane was a Lycoming 0-360-A1A and was not listed on the STC. Additionally, a STC for the use of automotive fuel had been issued. A STOL kit was installed on the airplane as well as a partial smoke writing system. There was no documentation on file with the FAA for the smoke system, nor the last engine change. A banner tow and release system was installed and in use on the airplane. According to the owner, the airplane normally has two front seats installed. At the time of the accident only the front left seat was installed.


Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight. The weather report at St. Petersburg Clearwater Airport, Saint Petersburg, Florida, at the time of the accident listed the winds from 110 degrees at 4 knots, broken ceiling at 3000 feet and visibility 10 statute miles.


The wreckage path of the airplane originated with pieces from the left wingtip and continued approximately 22 feet to where the airplane came to rest. There were ground scars in the soil leading to the wreckage on a magnetic heading of 190 degrees. The airplane was found upright with the nose wheel broken off and the airplane resting on the engine and main wheels. The airplane came to rest on a heading of 060 degrees magnetic.

The wings had been modified with a Sportsman extended leading edge STOL kit. Control cable continuity was confirmed from the flight control surfaces to the forward cabin area. The right wing had crush damage on the leading edge from the aileron-flap junction chord to the tip. The left wing was partially separated from the fuselage at the wing root. The outer left wing leading edge was bent up from the aileron-flap-junction chord to the tip. The wing flap actuator was extended 6 inches corresponding to a 40-degree flap extension position.

The tail section was twisted and bent down aft the rear bulkhead and rear storage compartment. The horizontal stabilizer was free from impact damage. Rudder and elevator control system continuity was confirmed to the forward cabin area.

The pilots seat was found separated from the seat rails. No shoulder harnesses were installed and the pilot's lap belt buckle was found unclasped. No Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) was installed in the airplane.

The fuel selector was found in the "Both" position. A cloudy blue colored fuel was seen leaking from the wings at the accident. According to the owner, the fuel was a mixture of auto fuel and 100LL. The airplane had an STC for the use of auto fuel. Fuel was found in the carburetor fuel bowl. The fuel-metering screen was free of debris.

Examination of the nose section of the airframe disclosed that the engine was displaced aft into the firewall. The propeller and crankshaft flange were partially separated from the crankshaft. One propeller blade was bent forward approximately 5 degrees and the other propeller blade was twisted from a point mid-span outboard to the blade tip. Both propeller blades had leading edge polishing. The propeller spinner was also displaced aft and was wrapped around the propeller assembly.

During the examination of the engine assembly all spark plugs were clean and exhibited a wear pattern generally associated with low service life. All spark plugs showed a color consistent with "normal" combustion when compared to the Champion Spark Plug Wear Guide. The engine driven fuel pump was separated from the accessory housing. A mixture of 100LL and auto gas was drained from the pump. There were 3 1/2 quarts of engine oil found in the oil sump. The #1 cylinder primer line was loose at the nozzle and found disconnected. All spark plug wires on the left magneto fired with impulse. The right magneto was not rotated. The vacuum pump was tested and found to be in good condition. The gascolator was found to be dry with an odor of auto fuel. All cylinders were tested using a lighted borescope and found to be unremarkable. The fuel inlet screen and the oil suction screen were found clean. Nothing was found during the examination of the engine that would have precluded normal continued operation prior to the accident.

The examination of the airplane and engine failed to reveal any mechanical malfunction or component failure prior to the accident.


The Florida District 12 associate medical examiner conducted postmortem examination of the pilot. The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma. The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot. No carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol nor drug was detected.


The examination of the airplane skin revealed several areas where surface repairs were in progress. The right cabin door was separated and there were many locations where the paint and the surface of the metal had been ground down. The vertical stabilizer had approximately 3 inches of the leading edge ground off. Generally, surface skin was thin and indentations were formed.

(c) 2009-2018 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.