NTSB Identification: CHI08CA227.
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Accident occurred Thursday, July 31, 2008 in Cook, MN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/28/2008
Aircraft: Head Balloons, Inc. AX9-118, registration: N3106K
Injuries: 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.
After a 15-20 minute balloon flight, the pilot began to look for a suitable landing area. The selected landing area was a road within a heavily wooded area. The pilot said that he did not see the power transmission lines that were hidden in the tree line alongside the road. During the landing, the surface winds blew the balloon envelope "in close proximity to the wires." According to the pilot, about five minutes after landing the balloon envelope lost enough hot air that it deflated on lines and caught on fire. An eyewitness reported seeing the balloon flying low over the forested area and then very thick black smoke. The pilot told local law enforcement that the balloon envelope contacted the power transmission lines before the basket touched-down. The law enforcement accident report stated that there was a "small showering of sparks and a very small flame" when the balloon envelope came in contact with the power lines. The balloon envelope was destroyed by the ensuing fire.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's decision to land in a confined area. Contributing to the accident were the hidden power transmission lines and the confined landing site.
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