NTSB Identification: FTW98LA064.
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Accident occurred Saturday, December 06, 1997 in GALLUP, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/26/1998
Aircraft: Adams A55S, registration: N1063V
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 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 pilot landed his hot air balloon several times to allow passengers to disembark and other passengers to board. On the last landing, he vented heat from the envelope to insure loss of buoyancy, then instructed one of the passengers to step out but to keep his weight on the basket. The passenger complied. The second passenger exited before the pilot could give similar instructions, and the balloon began to ascend. Unable to hold the balloon down, ground personnel released their weight from the basket. The pilot immediately pulled the vent line, but the balloon continued to ascend at a 'moderate rate.' The pilot then noticed a shadow hanging from the balloon and saw one of his ground crew members holding on to one of the rope handles, located along the bottom edge of the basket. The balloon was 15 to 20 feet in the air and continuing to ascend. The pilot continued to vent the envelope. The balloon reached a maximum altitude of 75 to 80 feet before it began to descend. When it was approximately 40 feet above the ground, the ground crew member said she couldn't hold on anymore. She fell to the ground, sustaining fatal injuries.

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

failure of the ground crewman to follow proper procedures. A factor relating to the accident was: the passenger failed to follow the pilot's verbal instructions.

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