This December 2009 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.
Aircraft: Bellanca 7GCBC. Injuries: None. Location: St. Petersburg, Fla. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The pilot was returning from a 50-minute banner towing flight when the airplane’s engine began losing power. The pilot determined that the airplane would be unable to reach the destination airport and elected to perform a forced landing on a golf course.
He decided not to detach the banner the airplane was towing, partly out of concern for people and property on the ground, and partly so that it could act as a drag device during the off-airport landing. During the landing, when the pilot maneuvered the airplane to avoid several golfers standing in the airplane’s path during rollout, the right wing hit a tree, resulting in substantial damage.
A brief post-accident test run of the engine showed no evidence of any mechanical abnormalities. Temperature and dewpoint conditions at the time of the accident were favorable to the formation of serious carburetor icing at glide power settings.
Probable cause: A loss of engine power for undetermined reasons.
For more information: NTSB.gov; NTSB Identification: ERA10LA101