NTSB Identification: LAX93LA188.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 50469.
Accident occurred Thursday, April 22, 1993 in CALISTOGA, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/03/1993
Aircraft: AEROSTAR AX-9, registration: N63164
Injuries: 1 Serious,5 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 SAID THAT THE PRE TAKEOFF WEATHER BRIEFING CONTAINED A FORECAST FOR WINDS WELL WITHIN THE NORMAL RANGE OF THE BALLOON'S NORMAL OPERATING ENVELOPE. THE PILOT SAID AFTER ABOUT 45 MINUTES OF FLIGHT, HIS GROUND CREW REPORTED AN INCREASE IN THE SURFACE WINDS TO ABOUT EIGHT KNOTS. THE PILOT OBSERVED THAT AS HE PREPARED FOR AN APPROACH HE NOTED THAT SEVERAL BALLOONS ON THE GROUND WERE LAYING OVER. THE PILOT SAID HE SELECTED A LARGE FIELD AND BRIEFED HIS PASSENGERS ON A HIGH WIND LANDING. AT A POINT ABOUT EIGHT FEET ABOVE THE GROUND, THE WINDS INCREASED TO 12 KNOTS WITH HIGHER GUSTS. THE PILOT REPORTED THAT HE WAS UNABLE TO OVERCOME THE WIND EFFECTS AND THE BALLOON TOUCHED DOWN HARD. THE PILOT STATED THAT THE INJURED PASSENGER'S FOOT WAS PLACED IN A RECESSED AREA OF THE BASKET FLOOR WHICH DID NOT ALLOW FOR ANY LATERAL MOVEMENT. ON GROUND TOUCHDOWN, THE PASSENGER SUSTAINED A DISLOCATION FRACTURE OF THAT ANKLE.

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

THE BALLOON'S ENCOUNTER WITH HIGHER THAN FORECAST WINDS WHICH RESULTED IN A HARD LANDING. A FACTOR IN THE ACCIDENT WAS THE DESIGN OF THE BALLOON BASKET WITH A RECESSED AREA WHICH PREVENTED ANY LATERAL MOVEMENT OF THE INJURED PASSENGER'S FOOT DURING THE LANDING.

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