NTSB Identification: LAX96LA190.
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Accident occurred Saturday, February 17, 1996 in TUCSON, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/20/1996
Aircraft: Aerostar S-77A, registration: N6317U
Injuries: 1 Serious,9 Uninjured.

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

A passenger sustained fractures of foot bones during a hard landing in high wind conditions during a for-hire local area sightseeing flight in a balloon. The pilot reported that the winds were nearly calm when the flight departed. The balloon drifted in a northerly direction and the pilot selected a flat area being prepared for a new housing development. The pilot described the winds at the time of the landing as about 8 knots. The balloon was descending on a flat trajectory towards the preselected spot when the pilot noticed a drainage canal under construction just beyond. The pilot said he was concerned about the balloon ending up in the canal and ceased venting in order to go beyond the ditch. He said the balloon landed firmly, not hard, and bounced several times before coming to a stop on it's side. The injured passenger and other passengers on the flight reported that the balloon descended toward the landing spot and 'all of a sudden we hit the ground really hard, the balloon basket fell over onto it's side, then, back to an upright position, and the next thing we knew we were up in the air again.' The passengers further stated, 'then we came down at an angle, and bounced on the ground five times.' The passenger stated that she felt a sharp pain in her right foot as the balloon was bouncing on the ground.

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

the interruption to the pilot's planned landing approach due to obstructions in the original touchdown spot, which led to the pilot misjudging the landing flare.

Full narrative available

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