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N7557F accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Farmingdale, NJ
40.196502°N, 74.168476°W

Tail number N7557F
Accident date 18 Jul 1996
Aircraft type Champion 7GCBC
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On July 18, 1996, about 1215 eastern daylight time, a Champion 7GCBC, N7557F, operated by United Aerial Advertising, of Farmingdale, New Jersey, struck the ground during a banner pickup, at Allaire Airport, Farmingdale. The airplane was destroyed, and the pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the local banner towing flight which departed a few minutes earlier, and was operated on a waiver under 14 CFR Part 91.

The pilot was making a banner pickup without benefit of ground crew when the accident occurred. According to the operator, the pilot would lay out the banner, and set up the poles. He would make the pickup with the airplane and proceed with the flight.

This was the first flight of the day for the pilot. After laying out the banner, he departed on runway 32 in N7557F. The pickup site was an open field located to the right side of the departure end of runway 32.

A witness who was flying near the accident site, and teaching banner towing pickups, reported:

"...I observed the Citabria that was involved in the accident, depart runway 32 at the first taxi way just north of intersection runway 21-3 and 32...I continued on a right downwind to a right base to final...At this time the Citabria appeared to be on an attempt to pickup a banner. As I climbed out to set up for another practice pickup the Citabria was climbing out behind me without a banner. We continued in the pattern to right downwind with the Citabria somewhere behind my plane. I turned base to final for another practice pickup...As we turned from crosswind to downwind I looked and saw the Citabria impact the ground in about a 20-30 degree nose down and right wing low attitude. I immediately called unicom to advise them of the situation...."

The pilot was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries later in the day.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at location 40 degrees, 11 minutes North and 74 degrees, 27 minutes West.


The pilot was the holder of a commercial pilot certificate for airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane ratings. In addition, he held a glider rating. He was issued a 2nd Class FAA Airman Medical Certificate on September 21, 1996, with a limitation to wear correctives lenses. In addition, he was issued a Statement of Demonstrated Ability for defective color vision.

According to the pilot's log book which was current through July 14, 1996, he had a total time of 428 hours with 390 hours as pilot-in-command, and 37 hours in the Champion 7GCBC. His last flight review was conducted on December 3, 1996, when he added a glider rating to his commercial pilot certificate. According to FAA records, he had acquired 16.5 hours of glider time with 9.5 of hours a pilot-in-command. No glider times were found in the pilot's log book. The flight time totals displayed in the report was achieved by adding the glider time to his fixed wing time.


The airplane was a 1969 Champion 7GCBC. The last inspection annual inspection occurred April 20, 1996, 58 hours prior to the accident. The last maintenance performed occurred on May 29, 1996, 49 hours prior to the accident, and consisted of work to the wheels, brakes, and flight control systems.

According to the airframe log book records, on May 2, 1990, "...Disassembled airframe, cleaned, primed and painted with zinc chromate. Covered with ceconite 101 IW STC SA-1351-WE and AC 43.13-1 as applicable. See form 337 this date. /S/ Gregory P. Stoke IA 14250446...." A review of log books between this date and the date of the accident failed to find any reference to removal of the flight control cables.

There was no requirement for other than an annual inspection for airplanes involved in banner towing.


The airplane was examined at the accident site on July 19, 1996. The examination revealed that the airplane had impacted the ground in nose low attitude. the fuselage was crushed to about 1/2 its normal height. Both wings remained attached to the fuselage with the outboard sections drooping down and touching the ground. The landing gear was pushed out to the sides.

Fuel was found in both wing tanks, the fuel line leading to the carburetor, and the carburetor. The propeller had separated from the engine. The crankshaft had failed behind the propeller flange with a 45 degree surface on the fracture face. The engine was rotated and compression was found in all cylinders. Spark was found both magnetos. All engine controls were attached.

Flight control continuity was confirmed to all flight control surfaces. Cable breaks were observed in areas where the flight control cables passed through areas of fuselage crushing. The left and right rudder cables were found to be wearing against a vertical fuselage strut. This was under the fuselage covering. The cable on the right side was worn about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through. As the cable strands were worn and fractured, the cable started to unwind. When the rudder was pushed to full left, the unwound portion of the cable extended about one inch out of the fabric.

A "G" meter installed in the cockpit registered 11 positive "Gs", and 5 negative "Gs".


An autopsy was conducted by Stanley M. Becker, MD, Chief Medical Examiner, Monmouth County, New Jersey, on July 19, 1996.

Toxicological testing conducted by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was negative for drugs and alcohol.


Banner towing operations are conducted under a waiver of 14 CFR Part 91. The issuance of a waiver for banner towing is covered in Chapter 45, of FAA Order 8700.1, General Aviation Operations Inspector Handbook, and Chapter 46 covers their surveilance.

The operator was last surveiled in the spring when the FAA observed one banner pickup. The operator had submitted a training program which was accepted. The operator produced a form upon which was recorded the pilots training. The form was signed by the instructor, and countersigned by the pilot. The form revealed that the pilot had received 5 hours of ground training and 10 hours of flight training.

According to the pilot's log book, the following flights were recorded:

6/30/96 1.4 hours Touch & Goes, Traffic Pattern 7/1/96 1.1 hours Banner Passes 7/2/96 2.4 hours More banner passes 7/3/96 1.8 hours More practice, then first banner pickup. Total 6.7 hours

According to the operator, following the July 3, 1996 flight, all flights were revenue banner towing flights. According to the pilots log book, between July 4, 1996, and July 14, 1996, he had logged 9 flights, with 13 landings recorded.

According to records, from the operator, after being checked out on July 3, 1996, the pilot made 12 banner pickups. The accident occurred during the pickup for the 13th banner flight.

The operator commented he would often observe their pickups after being released,; however, there was no program to in place to monitor and evaluate the pilots progress as he gained experience.

The aircraft wreckage was released to the owner on July 19, 1996.

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