NTSB Identification: LAX03LA097.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, February 25, 2003 in YOUNTVILLE, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/01/2004
Aircraft: FIREFLY 11B, registration: N1501H
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.

A bystander sustained fatal injuries after falling from a balloon. Although the scheduled flight had been canceled, the pilot was going to lift the balloon several hundred feet into the air so that the passengers could take a picture of the balloon in flight. As the balloon was being repositioned by five members of a ground crew, two bystanders grabbed onto the basket and it ascended more than the pilot had planned. She called to everyone to release. The five crew members and one bystander released; however, one bystander continued holding onto the balloon. During the ascent, the pilot realized the bystander was hanging on and told him to hang on while she descended. However, the bystander was unable to hold on and fell to his death. Tetrahydrocannabinol (marijuana) levels in the bystander suggested use within the hour and significant impairment.

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

A bystander was impaired by drugs and did not follow the pilot's directive to release the balloon as it began its ascent.

Full narrative available

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