Banner-Towing Aircraft Meet Trouble On Both Coasts

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With sunshine and beach traffic, it's high season for banner towing, but pilots have had a run of trouble this summer. Last week, pilot Blake Prosser, 24, lost power in his 1953 Piper Pa-18-105 and ditched into the ocean off Myrtle Beach. He escaped from the airplane and was quickly rescued, and the airplane was towed to shore. Earlier this month, a banner tower in the same region made a precautionary landing on a golf course after an oil light came on, and in May, two pilots died in a crash while practicing banner pick-up maneuvers. At Long Beach Airport, in California, a banner-towing company was banned from operation after two incidents in one weekend. One airplane lost its banner above a residential neighborhood; the banner hit power lines, triggering a power loss. Another airplane ditched off Rancho Palos Verdes. Nobody was hurt in either incident.