Banner Pilot Dies In Condo Collision (Updated)

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A banner towing pilot died and dozens of others had a close call on Friday when a banner plane flying along Fort Lauderdale’s beachfront hit a condo building and fell about 150 feet to a pool deck below. The Piper Pawnee operated by Aerial Banners Inc. hit the building between the 16th and 17th floor. The pilot was identified as 28-year-old Derek Morgan. The most affected apartment was occupied but the resident was not hurt. Some early reports suggested the banner snagged on a neighboring building before the pilot released it and tried to climb away from the building. The aircraft bounced off the condo building about three floors below the roof and ended up on the second floor pool deck below, which was under construction. About 20 workers were on the pool deck but none were injured.

NTSB investigators were on the scene Saturday and told local media the aircraft had an onboard tracker whose data will be available to them. The plane poked a hole in the kitchen wall of a 17th floor apartment squarely behind the dishwasher, sending it into the middle of the room, but bottles and dishes on the countertop weren’t disturbed. Pieces of the airplane were also found in the kitchen. Aerial Banners Inc. is a national company that specializes in banner towing at beaches, stadiums, parks and other public venues and major events. It has 50 aircraft based around the country and the Pawnee in Friday’s mishap was based at North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

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