NTSB Identification: CHI05CA133.
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Accident occurred Friday, May 27, 2005 in Sparta, MO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/13/2005
Aircraft: Aerostar S-57A, registration: N71072
Injuries: 1 Serious,2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The balloon sustained minor damage and the pilot sustained serious injuries when a wind gust was encountered while descending for landing following a tethered flight. The two passengers on-board were not injured. The pilot reported that he obtained a preflight weather briefing during which he was advised that forecast winds were to be 7 knots. He noted that he departed from his residence on a free balloon flight. After take off the flight proceeded in an easterly direction and landed about 30 minutes later. He stated that no unusual weather activity was observed during that flight and winds remained light. The pilot stated that after landing he elected to provide tethered balloon rides for residents in the area. He reported that while descending to land after the final ride, while about 30 feet above ground level, a "strong north wind suddenly hit the balloon." He estimated the wind gust was 25 miles per hour. He stated that he could not hold the balloon and it began to travel toward the south at a "rapid speed," which resulted in a hard landing in the next field. He reported that he pulled the vent line in an attempt to deflate the balloon envelope. The pilot stated that he was subsequently "bounced out" of the basket and was dragged through the field. The balloon "relaunched" itself in the high wind and flew into a tree. He was no longer able to hold onto the vent line and fell about 20 feet to the ground. The pilot suffered a fractured pelvis and compressed vertebrae.

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

The pilot's inability to maintain a proper descent rate due to the wind gust resulting in a hard landing. Contributing factors were the wind gust and the tree struck during the landing.

Full narrative available

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