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NTSB Prelim: Piper PA-18-135

During A Banner Tow Operation, The Pilot Seat Broke, And He Slid Aft About A Foot

Location: Compton, CA Accident Number: WPR23LA336
Date & Time: September 3, 2023, 14:20 Local Registration: N7199K
Aircraft: Piper PA-18-135 Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Banner tow

On September 3, 2023, about 1420 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-18-135, N7199K, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Compton, California. The pilot sustained minor injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 banner tow flight.

The pilot reported that shortly after takeoff, during a banner tow operation, the pilot seat broke, and he slid aft about a foot. The airplane  pitched up in a nose high attitude, causing him to further slide aft. Unable to push the flight control stick forward, he let go of the flight controls and used the crossbeam to pull himself forward. About 200 ft above ground level (agl), at the onset of an aerodynamic stall, he was able to push the flight control stick forward and recover the airplane. The airplane’s engine began to “cough” and experienced a partial loss of engine power. Unable to maintain altitude, he elected to make a forced landing to a nearby baseball field. As the airplane descended toward the baseball field, it impacted a fence along a concrete wash and came to rest upright.

The pilot believes that when he fell back or when he was pulling himself forward, his foot or knee may have moved the fuel selector lever out of the “both/on” position.

Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that both wings were substantially damaged. The wreckage was recovered for further examination.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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