NTSB Identification: LAX05LA143.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, April 13, 2005 in Saint Helena, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/28/2006
Aircraft: Firefly Balloon, Inc. Firefly 11, registration: N15001
Injuries: 1 Serious,8 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 balloon touched down hard at the conclusion of a sightseeing flight seriously injuring one of the eight fare-paying passengers. The pilot indicated that upon entering a wider area of the Napa Valley the winds aloft should have slowed, but they did not. Therefore, he decided to land as soon as possible, having the belief that the wind speed might increase if he continued the flight. During the descent to an open field, the balloon drifted over a row of estimated 30- to 40-foot-tall trees, and the wind speed suddenly increased to between 10 and 12 miles per hour. The pilot advised the passengers to prepare for a possible hard touchdown, and during the final seconds of the flight, he used both burners at maximum power to slow the descent rate. However, a windshear was encountered, and the balloon abruptly descended.

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

The pilot's encounter with wind shear during landing, which resulted in a hard touchdown.

Full narrative available

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