NTSB Identification: CEN12CA393
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, June 17, 2012 in Pierce, NE
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/13/2012
Aircraft: NATIONAL BALLOONING LTD 858, registration: N9005E
Injuries: 1 Serious,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 was participating with about eight other balloons in an early morning mass ascension. After about 45 minutes of flight, the pilot observed that the wind had increased and determined that a “high-wind landing” would be necessary. His two passengers had not experienced a balloon flight before, and the pilot instructed them that they should hold on tightly and face forward, with their feet pointed straight ahead and their knees bent to absorb the shock of the landing. He also advised them that the basket would likely tip over during the landing. The balloon initially touched down hard in a flat, harvested field, then bounced and touched down a second time. The pilot reported his ground speed was about 13 to 14 mph. During the second touchdown the basket tipped over and was dragged about 100 feet, coming to rest on its side in an adjacent cornfield. The pilot deflated the balloon envelope and the three occupants began to climb out of the basket. The 70-year old passenger was seriously injured during the landing. The balloon was not damaged. The pilot said that he thought the passenger’s injury occurred because she did not have her feet pointed straight ahead during the landing.

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

The balloon pilot’s encounter with increased wind during landing, which resulted in a hard landing and a passenger’s injury.

Full narrative available

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