NTSB Identification: FTW98LA009B
Accident occurred Friday, October 10, 1997 in ALBUQUERQUE, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/10/1998
Aircraft: Aerostar RX 8, registration: N71415
Injuries: 4 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.

The two balloons were participating in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. According to witnesses, the Cameron N-90, N1602R, was descending at an altitude of approximately 250 feet to 300 feet agl. Another witness stated that the Aerostar RX 8, N71415, was 'moving towards the Cameron and was clearly descending rapidly while burning to arrest the decent.' The pilot of the Cameron reported that he was descending when the 'top of my balloon was hit from above by the bottom of the basket of another balloon.' The pilot of the Aerostar reported seeing the Cameron 'approaching below me at a slightly quicker ground speed; then N1602R began to ascend and I began to fire both of my burners.' FAR 91.113(b) states that 'vigilance shall be maintained by each person operating an aircraft so as to see and avoid other aircraft.' Several balloon instructors stated that the balloon community teaches that the lower balloon has the right-of-way. Postaccident examination of photographs taken during the collision sequence reveal that after separating, the Aerostar rose approximately 275 feet, while the Cameron maintained its position relative to the balloons around him.

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

The failure of the pilot of the Aerostar RX 8, N71415, to follow procedures/directives.

Full narrative available

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