NTSB Identification: MIA08CA176
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, August 31, 2008 in Anderson, SC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/22/2009
Aircraft: Cameron ZL-60, registration: N61ZL
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 was participating in a balloon competition event. He overflew his second target and climbed to 6,800 feet en-route to the third target. The basket started oscillating from right to left and he became disoriented. The pilot could not focus on the gauges and could not determine if he was climbing or descending. He thought he was descending, but the balloon was climbing. In order to arrest his perceived descent, the pilot continued to operate both burners which further increased his rate of ascent. During the climb he noticed that the parachute at the top of the balloon had shifted to the left and was letting out hot air. He tried to re-seal the parachute by adding more heat with the burners, and realized the balloon was in a rapid climb. The air in the balloon was evacuated and the balloon began to streamer, resulting in a rapid descent. The basket collided with a tree and the pilot was ejected from the basket. Examination of the envelope/balloon revealed the balloon was intact. All damage to the balloon was related to heat damage from the improper use of the burners or from impact damage from the tree. No precrash mechanical anomalies were noted during the inspection.

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

The pilot's improper use of the balloon burners.

Full narrative available

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