NTSB Identification: LAX07CA028.
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Accident occurred Sunday, November 05, 2006 in Page, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/26/2007
Aircraft: Strategie Ballloon Co. Amazon, registration: PPXKY
Injuries: 2 Minor,3 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's envelope caught fire during the takeoff initial climb and the pilot made a hard landing during efforts to get it on the ground as quickly as possible. During a pre-departure inflation, dry grass cuttings were accidentally blown into the balloon's envelope by a fan used to blow air into the balloon during the cold inflation phase. When departing, the pilot turned on the burners until the balloon started to ascend from the launch field. As the balloon continued through 300 feet above ground level (agl), he noticed that grass cuttings were inside the balloon envelope, and had become engulfed in flames. Shortly thereafter, the fabric on the envelope's throat started to burn, and the pilot pulled the vent line in an effort to descend. The suspension cables began to disconnect from the throat of the balloon as a result of the fire. The basket contacted the ground and two passengers were ejected. The absence of the passengers' weight resulted in the balloon starting an ascent. The fire continued to burn the fabric comprising the balloon's throat and seven additional suspension cables disconnected. The pilot manipulated the balloon back to the surface and the ground crew secured the basket.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's failure to identify grass clippings in the balloon envelope during a preflight inspection, which resulted in the balloon catching fire in flight. Full narrative available
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