NTSB Identification: LAX02FA069.
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Accident occurred Saturday, January 26, 2002 in North Las Vegas, NV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/02/2004
Aircraft: Cameron Balloons US N-145, registration: N8004J
Injuries: 1 Fatal,2 Serious,4 Minor.
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.
During a high wind landing in gusty conditions, the balloon impacted a residential block wall, hit the ground hard, and was dragged about 300 yards across rough and uneven terrain. During the initial impact with the block wall, one passenger was ejected from the gondola. The gondola went over the wall and impacted several dirt berms. The pilot was ejected during the ensuing hard touchdown. Thereafter, the gondola was dragged in the open desert terrain until stopping about 300 yards from the block wall. Prior to taking off, the pilot did not provide a safety briefing to the fare-paying passengers, and no safety helmets were carried in the gondola. Initially, the local surface wind was nearly calm, and the flight progressed without incident. However, when the wind speed increased the pilot attempted to land in the open desert terrain. His first touchdown was hard, and he aborted the attempt. Thereafter, the pilot flew for about 2 miles until he again attempted to land. The pilot and at least one passenger's head injuries would have been mitigated if protective helmets had been worn.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's misjudged approach and inadequate obstacle clearance, which resulted in his failure to attain the proper touchdown point. Contributing factors were the high gusty wind condition, and the pilot's failure to provide protective safety equipment.
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