NTSB, FAA Investigate Cause Of Deadly Banner-Towing Airplane Crash In Compton

COMPTON (CBSLA.com/AP) — The Compton/Woodley Airport reopened on Monday after a pilot was killed when a small, banner-towing airplane crashed during takeoff.

The crash occurred as the single-engine Aviat Husky A-1 was picking up a banner at Compton/Woodley Airport located in the 900 block of West Alondra Boulevard on Sunday, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.

According to the NTSB, the pilot made five attempts to hook a banner advertising a beer brand before taking off with it.

On the sixth attempt, he was able to hook the banner, however, problems then arose.

A preliminary investigation revealed the pilot radioed in that he couldn’t gain altitude. He then released the banner and the plane impacted nose down.

The plane was engulfed in flames, leaving behind a wreckage of twisting metal.

Witnesses said bystanders rushed over to attempt to help the pilot out of the plane, however, the fire became too strong.

A Los Angeles County coroner’s spokesman said the identity of the pilot is expected to be released on Tuesday, however, it has been difficult to identify the victim as his body was badly burned.

“I understand he had thousands of hours of experience flying banners,” said Dennis Lord of the L.A. County Aviation Commission. “He was not a rookie.”

CBS2’s Jasmine Viel reported the pilot was doing a routine job at the time of the crash, which involved picking up banners and flying them over the coast for a stretch of four hours at a time.

“These are typically well-qualified pilots doing a regular business,” added Lord. “Its how they make a living.”

Authorities have since removed the wreckage from the runway.

The FAA’s online registry shows the plane is owned by a firm called Wyoming Services in Laramie, Wyoming.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board was investigating the crash.

The city of Compton is about 10 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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