NTSB Identification: DEN06LA002.
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Accident occurred Saturday, October 08, 2005 in Albuquerque, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/28/2006
Aircraft: Aerostar S57-A, registration: N3635U
Injuries: 3 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 pilot stated that after briefing the crew on a "splash and dash" (touching down in the water and lifting off again) on a sand bar in the middle of the Rio Grande River, he took off again, and climbed up and cleared a tree at the edge of the water, allowing the balloon to cool and descend towards the river. The crown line and vent line caught a tree branch and he was continuing to burn while the vent line was being held open." A crew from the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) arrived within 1-2 minutes and "they were able to free the crown line first but the vent line was being held open and once the crown line was freed, the balloon continued to vent and the basket descended into the water. The balloon's throat collapsed and the envelope started to deflate. I evacuated the crewmembers to the APD personnel while the envelope and basket were drawn into the water. The current was too swift to recover the balloon system despite the assistance of 2 APD personnel and 5 bystanders."

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

the pilot's improper in flight planning decision to takeoff and land (splash and dash) in close proximity to trees. Contributing factors are the trees and the water.

Full narrative available

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