NTSB Identification: DEN99FA004.
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Accident occurred Monday, October 05, 1998 in ALBUQUERQUE, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/2000
Aircraft: Cameron A-250, registration: N4557W
Injuries: 1 Fatal,12 Serious.

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.

The balloon was making a landing approach on a 165 degree heading. The pilot said that he thought he was 50 to 60 feet above the oncoming wires when the balloon began to descend. The balloon impacted the wires, and was subsequently extracted from them due to a large heat input just prior to wire impact. The balloon proceeded eastbound and climbed to 600 feet agl. The pilot began a stabilized descent, and the balloon again turned southbound. He selected a landing site which had transmission wires on the approach edge of the field. He began a descending approach over the wires believing that he had approximately 20 feet of clearance. The balloon's descent suddenly increased, and the pilot began heating the envelope. The balloon impacted the second set of wires, and the basket fell to the ground. Balloon training procedures recommended that during a landing over wires, the wires be approached in level, or ascending flight. The balloon's Flight Manual states: 'if contact with electric wires becomes inevitable, rip out the top to ensure that the basket is as close to the ground as possible before contact.'

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

The pilot not planning his approach to a landing so as to fly over the transmission wires (on the approach edge of the landing field) in level flight or ascending flight, and the pilot not pulling out the rip panel for emanate contact with transmission wires as the owner's manual directs. A factor was the wind shear weather condition.

Full narrative available

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