NTSB Identification: CHI05CA209.
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Accident occurred Monday, August 01, 2005 in Indianola, IA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/28/2006
Aircraft: National Ballooning 751-12, registration: N3219T
Injuries: 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.
A free balloon sustained substantial damage during a forced landing when it impacted power lines after an in-flight fire. The pilot reported that during the preflight checks of the balloon he connected the two liquid propane lines and the pilot light vapor line properly. The pilot reported the balloon lifted off the field and that the burner was functioning normally. When the balloon was about 700 feet above ground level (agl), the pilot observed flames "coming from both the pilot light hose and the tank hose (right side of aircraft and the side where two tanks are manifolded together)." He attempted to put out the fire with his gloved hand, but was unsuccessful. He then shut off the tanks at the tank valves on the right side of the balloon, but the fire continued. He reported that an emergency landing was imminent so he shut off the third tank on the left side of the balloon. Then he rechecked to make sure the manifold valves were shut off. The bottom of the balloon's basket hit the power lines. The balloon continued to descend until the basket impacted the ground. The basket tipped over when it hit the ground, and the pilot and passenger exited the basket. The pilot used the on-board fire extinguisher to put out the fire that was still burning at the hose-burner connection. The pilot reported that once the balloon was removed from the power lines, he retrieved the envelope and basket. He disconnected the fuel lines and the pilot light line while the ground crew put the envelope away. During the inspection of the balloon, the burner and basket were reassembled. The pilot reconnected the fuel lines and the pilot light line. During the burner operational check there were no propane leaks and the burner functioned. Pictures of the propane bottle provided by the fire department appeared to show frost on the pilot light valve.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The in-flight fire due to the loose fuel line connection as a result of the pilot's inadequate preflight. A factor was the power lines. Full narrative available
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