NTSB Identification: FTW02LA059.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, December 18, 2001 in Mcintosh, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/21/2002
Aircraft: Cameron Balloons Z-90, registration: N984ZS
Injuries: 1 Serious,2 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.

Prior to departing for the cross-country balloon flight, the pilot received a weather briefing from an Automated Flight Service Station. The pilot was briefed that the wind speed was 28 mph on top of the mountains the flight was to cross. The pilot reported that "we decided that it was a little fast but doable." The pilot reported that he was unable to obtain weather information for his destination prior to the flight due to the lack of weather reporting facilities east of the mountains. The balloon departed with a light and variable wind. The balloon ascended to 11,250 feet msl and its ground speed increased to 52 mph as it crossed over the mountains. After crossing the mountains, the balloon descended to 500 feet agl, where the wind speed was 32 mph. As the flight continued, the pilot selected a field and attempted a high wind landing. During the landing sequence the pilot and a passenger were ejected from the basket. The balloon then took off and ascended to 1,000 feet with the remaining passenger, who was a balloon pilot. The passenger took control of the balloon and landed safely 6 miles from where the pilot and passenger were ejected.

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

inadvertent flight into adverse (high wind) weather conditions, which resulted in a hard landing. A contributing factor was the high wind weather condition.

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