NTSB Identification: LAX96FA169.
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Accident occurred Monday, April 15, 1996 in CAVE CREEK, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/17/1997
Aircraft: Cameron A-210, registration: N6085C
Injuries: 2 Fatal,4 Serious,3 Minor.

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.

A flight of four balloons was landing in a prearranged open area after completion of a sight-seeing local area tour. During the landing, the pilot of N6085C did not turn off the fuel tanks or the pilot light burners as required by the flight manual for high wind landings. During the landing, the balloon's basket drug about 422 feet along the ground before it tipped onto its side. The basket then dragged about 69 feet before the previously installed wooden upright rods broke and the basket flipped inverted and came to a stop. After the balloon had stopped, someone inadvertently actuated the burner's blast valve, and a fire immediately erupted. All but one of the occupants evacuated the basket. The operator reported that on the day preceding the accident, the nylon upright rods broke during inflation of the balloon, and they were replaced with wooden upright rods. Examination showed no evidence of any preexisting fuel tank system malfunction or failure. The manufacturer's proprietary drawings showed that only nylon or lexan rods were to be used; this requirement, however, was not specifically noted in the balloon's flight or maintenance manual. The Cameron Balloon Parts Catalog specifically required the approved upright rods.

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

the pilot's failure to follow the flight manual procedure by not turning off the burner's pilot shutoff valves. Factors relating to the accident were: the installation of improper (unapproved wooden) upright rods by company maintenance personnel, subsequent failure of the upright rods, and the manufacturer's unclear information concerning the replacement parts.

Full narrative available

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