NTSB Identification: CHI08LA037.
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Accident occurred Friday, November 16, 2007 in Hampton, IA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/28/2008
Aircraft: Padelt PG37-1, registration: N4448Y
Injuries: 2 Fatal,1 Serious.

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 cross country flight in the helium balloon began two days prior to the accident. The surviving passenger stated that the accident occurred as they were landing on the second morning of the flight. He stated that they began a three to four mile "stair-step" approach for landing. The approach consisted of repeatedly dropping ballast, venting, and leveling off. He stated that the approach was well controlled and they were not in a hurry to land. The passenger stated that they saw the power lines during the approach and the pilot asked him to drop a half of scoop, about two cups, of sand. Shortly thereafter, the pilot asked him to drop another half of a scoop, which he did. The pilot then instructed him to drop half of a bag of sand. He stated that they thought the balloon was going to clear the power lines. When it became evident that they were going to contact the lines, the pilot instructed both passengers to get into the bottom of the gondola. The passenger stated that the side of the gondola hit the top cable of the power lines and the power lines wedged between the balloon cables and the top of the gondola. He stated that the balloon remained entangled in the power lines for several minutes. He then heard a snap and the gondola fell to the ground.

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

The pilot's inadequate in-flight planning which resulted in the failure to maintain clearance with the power lines. Contributing to the accident was the power line.

Full narrative available

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