The pilot reported that, during banner towing operations, he was on approach to drop the banner and pulled the tow release, but the banner did not release.
The banner hit the ground and broke away from the Bellanca 8GCBC, and the airplane nosed over in Foley, Alabama.
The release mechanism has three hooks, but they typically only use the No. 1 hook.
Post-accident examination of the hook release mechanism did not reveal any anomalies that would have prevented the banner from being released.
The pilot believed that the ground crew mistakenly set up the No. 3 hook to pick up and tow the banner instead of the No. 1 hook. Therefore, when he went to release the banner from the No. 1 hook, there was nothing to release.
Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed substantial damage to the empennage.
The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.
Probable cause: The ground crew’s incorrect hook up of the banner, which resulted in a nose-over.
NTSB Identification: GAA17CA537
This August 2017 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.