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N61929 accident description

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Crash location 40.195555°N, 74.133889°W
Nearest city Farmingdale, NJ
40.196502°N, 74.168476°W
1.8 miles away
Tail number N61929
Accident date 26 Jul 2013
Aircraft type Cessna 172M
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On July 26, 2013, about 1420 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172M, N61929, operated by High Exposure, Inc., was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain near Farmingdale, New Jersey. The commercial pilot sustained minor injuries. The airplane was registered and operated by High Exposure, Inc under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local banner-tow flight. The flight departed Monmouth Executive Airport (BLM), Farmingdale, New Jersey, about 1415.

According to the pilot, while climbing through 300 feet above ground level (agl) and the engine at full power, the airplane experienced a sudden and abrupt loss of altitude. The pilot made a left turn in an effort to gain additional climb performance but the airplane continued to descend. At 200 feet agl, the airplane was still descending so the pilot utilized all three tow releases in an attempt to release the banner. There was no indication to the pilot that the banner released so he continued the left turn in an attempt to find a suitable area to perform an emergency landing. At no time did the pilot notice a loss of engine rpm. The pilot initiated an emergency landing to the only feasible location available, which was a gravel path between two tree lines. The banner released shortly before impact and the hook was located about 250 feet from where the airplane came to rest. The airplane impacted the ground on a 290 degree heading; about 15 degrees nose down and 35 degree left bank attitude. The tail banner towline and tow hook were located along the wreckage path leading to the main wreckage. The airplane's left wing subsequently impacted trees and the airplane came to rest on airport property.

A witness, who was assisting on the ground, stated the banner pickup appeared normal.

Postaccident examination of the airplane and engine, by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Continuity of the engine controls, flight controls, and release mechanisms were confirmed at the accident site. Examination of the hook mechanism did not reveal any anomalies.

According to FAA records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate, with ratings for single, multi-engine, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA first class medical certificate was issued on May 30, 2013. As of July 26, 2013, the pilot reported 1,250 total hours of flight experience; of which, 1,160 of those hours were in the same make and model as the accident airplane.

The four-seat, high-wing, fixed tricycle-gear airplane, was manufactured in 1975. It was powered by a Lycoming O-320, 180-hp engine. Review of the airplane's maintenance logbook records revealed that its most recent annual inspection was completed on July 20, 2013. At the time of inspection, the airplane had accumulated 8,217 total hours in service.

The 1415 recorded weather at BLM included wind from 320 degrees at 4 knots, 10 miles visibility, cloud conditions were scattered at 3,900 feet and broken at 5,500 feet, temperature 27 degrees C, dew point 15 degrees C, and a barometric altimeter setting of 30.04 inches of mercury.

BLM was a public, non-towered airport that operated in class G airspace. The reported field elevation for the airport was 153 feet msl. The airport was equipped with two asphalt runways. Runway 03/21 was 3,512-feet in length and 50-feet wide, and runway 14/32 was 7,371-feet in length and 85-feet wide. Airport procedures stated that banner towing operations were conducted north of runway 14/32.

NTSB Probable Cause

The airplane’s loss of lift shortly after picking up a banner for reasons that could not be determined because postaccident examinations revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

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