NTSB Identification: LAX94LA244.
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Accident occurred Sunday, June 05, 1994 in ACTON, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/26/1995
Aircraft: BALLOON WORKS FIREFLY 8, registration: N9084D
Injuries: 1 Serious,3 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 PILOT LAUNCHED SEVERAL PIBALS TO EVALUATE THE WIND DIRECTION AND SPEED PRIOR TO HIS INITIAL FLIGHT OF THE MORNING. HE THEN TOOK OFF WITH THE FIRST OF SEVERAL GROUPS OF PASSENGERS AND FLEW WITH THEM UNEVENTFULLY FOR ABOUT 1/2 HOUR. THE ACCIDENT PASSENGERS BOARDED THE BALLOON NEXT, AND THEIR INITIAL 1/2-HOUR-LONG FLIGHT WAS UNEVENTFUL. THEY LANDED, SEVERAL PASSENGERS EXITED THE BALLOON, ONE NEW PASSENGER CLIMBED IN, AND THEY TOOK OFF. DURING THIS FLIGHT, THE PILOT REPORTED OBSERVING THE WIND SPEED INCREASE AND RUNNING LOW ON FUEL. BY THE TIME THE PILOT COMMENCED LANDING EFFORTS, AVAILABLE SITES WERE LIMITED. SEVERAL INITIAL ATTEMPTS WERE ABORTED. FINALLY, WITH ONE FUEL TANK EMPTY AND THE SECOND TANK DOWN TO 25 PERCENT, AND WITH THE WIND SPEED INCREASING, THE PILOT RECOGNIZED THAT HE WAS RUNNING OUT OF OPTIONS. HE ELECTED TO LAND AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. THE PILOT LANDED THE BALLOON HARD, ON ROUGH TERRAIN, AND IN GUSTY WIND CONDITIONS. THE BALLOON TOUCHED DOWN SHORT OF THE PLANNED SITE AND IMPACTED THE SIDE OF A RAVINE.

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

the pilot's improper in-flight planning and his misjudging the wind speed information. Contributing factors were the gusty winds and the lack of suitable terrain.

Full narrative available

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