NTSB Identification: ERA11CA353
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, June 18, 2011 in Summerdale, AL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/22/2011
Aircraft: HEAD BALLOONS INC AX8-88, registration: N8190V
Injuries: 2 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 of the balloon reported that he elected to land in a large field after the wind speed increased during the flight. During the approach the pilot aligned the gondola to scrape along the top of a tree line adjacent to the intended landing field. He stated that, in ballooning, it is a common practice to scrape against the tops of trees on approach. The pilot allowed the balloon to descend too low during the maneuver and the balloon's "red line" became tangled in the trees which caused the envelope to deflate. The balloon then caught fire and the gondola settled to the ground as the pilot turned off the fuel. Both he and the passenger egressed the gondola safely before fire consumed the gondola.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The balloon pilot's failure to maintain proper altitude/clearance from a tree line during the landing approach. Full narrative available
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