NTSB Identification: LAX08CA209.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, July 02, 2008 in Boulder, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/26/2008
Aircraft: AEROSTAR INTERNATIONAL INC S-77A, registration: N9014W
Injuries: 2 Minor,5 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 pilot performed a normal cold-inflation of the balloon and instructed the passengers to board. The balloon was suddenly overcome by a gust of wind that pushed the envelope into a tree. The balloon was drawn upward by the wind, with its vent lines still entangled in the tree. As the lines became taut, sections of material ripped from the envelope, resulting in several long vertical tears. The pilot elected to abort the flight due to increasing wind speeds. The pilot attempted to gain control and stabilize the balloon, but it descended and collided with a tree. The basket came to rest about 20 feet above terrain. The pilot stated that there were no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the balloon.

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

An encounter with a sudden gust of wind, which rendered the balloon uncontrollable and led to a collision with a tree.

Full narrative available

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