NTSB Identification: LAX99LA093.
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Accident occurred Thursday, February 11, 1999 in PEORIA, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/13/2001
Aircraft: Aerostar RX-9, registration: N91067
Injuries: 2 Serious,4 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The 53-minute-long sightseeing flight with fare-paying passengers was flown mostly over open fields. During the flight the pilot encountered surface wind which increased in speed from about 3 knots during takeoff to 15 knots during landing. Approaching the landing field adjacent to residential homes, the pilot encountered an estimated 20-knot wind gust. The envelope lost volume, and despite the pilot's effort to arrest the descent by firing both burners, the balloon rapidly lost altitude. The basket impacted the roofs of two houses, tipped 90 degrees sideways, and impacted the ground. The basket was dragged about 300 feet before finally coming to a stop. The pilot did not report experiencing any mechanical problems during the flight. About 3 hours prior to taking off the pilot received a weather briefing in which 27-knot winds were forecast as low as 1,500 feet above the ground. Additionally, a 10-knot surface wind was predicted in the general area, with temporary increases to 12 knots, and gusts to 20 knots within 30 minutes of the accident. Contrary to the balloon's FAA approved flight manual requirements, the passengers were not wearing protective helmets during the hard, high wind landing.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's attempted flight in an area of forecasted high winds and his inadequate compensation for those wind conditions once encountered.

Full narrative available

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