NTSB Identification: FTW96FA063.
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Accident occurred Saturday, December 09, 1995 in OKLAHOMA CITY, OK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/04/1997
Aircraft: Balloon Works FIREFLY 7-15, registration: N25756
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Witnesses observed the balloon drift across an interstate highway in level flight and impact a high voltage (138kV) power line. As the balloon's basket came into contact with the current carrying wires, 'a blinding blue-white flash of electricity' was followed by an explosion. The basket and envelope caught fire, and the balloon then ascended to 100 to 150 feet AGL before the suspension ropes burned through and the basket separated from the envelope. Examination revealed that one of the balloon's three propane tanks was ruptured and a dime-sized hole opposite the ruptured section appeared to be the result of arcing. Evidence of arcing was also noted on the skirt ring and the burner shield. Functional testing and disassembly of the burner revealed no evidence of any pre-impact mechanical discrepancies. Toxicological testing detected small amounts of fenfluramine and phentermine in the pilot's blood and liver fluid. Neither of these medications is approved by the FAA for use while flying.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain obstacle clearance during low altitude straight and level flight.

Full narrative available

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