LAX94LA337
LAX94LA337

On August 23, 1994, at 0700 mountain standard time, a Balloon Works, Firefly 8-24, N90299, operated by Red Rock Balloon Adventures, made a high-wind landing on level terrain near Sedona, Arizona. The balloon was not damaged. The commercial pilot and two passengers were not injured. The third passenger received minor injuries, and the fourth passenger was seriously injured. The planned, local area, fare paying passenger flight originated from near Sedona, at 0605.

On August 24, the pilot reported to the National Transportation Safety Board that during his preflight preparations he had launched a pibal which indicated the wind was nearly calm at the surface, 5 miles per hour aloft, and in a favorable direction for the flight. No difficulty was experienced during takeoff, and the flight initially proceeded normally. The wind speed increased between 5 and 7 minutes prior to the planned landing time.

The pilot further reported that when he first observed his increased speed, the underlying terrain was rough and not suitable for landing. Therefore, he continued flying and looked for better terrain. After a few minutes, a clear area was sighted, and he commenced a descent. The pilot also stated that beyond the clear area there was additional rough terrain.

The pilot stated that he instructed all passengers to prepare for a landing in which the basket would likely tip over. Upon touchdown, the pilot pulled the balloon's vent line to release air. As expected, when the basket contacted the ground there was a forward lunging action, and the basket tipped over. The balloon came to rest after dragging along the terrain for between 75 and 100 feet.

According to the pilot, no nonstandard equipment was installed in the factory-built balloon which was equipped with six fuel tanks.

Upon landing, the tanks were about 1/4 full, and this would have provided for approximately 15 additional minutes of flying time.

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