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On September 4, 1994, approximately 0755 mountain daylight time, an Aerostar International RX-7, N3578D, received no damage during a hard landing in Fountain, Colorado, but the commercial pilot and two passengers received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed.
In a hospital telephone interview and in the subsequent pilot/operator report, the pilot said she was attempting to land in an open field "in wind conditions that would have allowed the balloon to have remained upright for a stand up landing." She did not consider it to be a high-wind landing. The balloon "landed harder than I anticipated" and the basket tipped over. A passenger fell out and the wind dragged the basket over her. As the pilot attempted to pull the passenger back into the basket, she lost her balance and the balloon ascended with the pilot holding onto the vent line. The balloon came back down and the pilot fell out. As the balloon dragged over the pilot, her leg became entangled in the vent line. The balloon lifted off again and ascended about 25 feet above the ground. The pilot disentangled herself and fell to the ground. The chase crew told the remaining passenger to pull the vent line to deflate the envelope. She did and the balloon descended to the ground about two blocks away.
A video tape of the accident, taken by a bystander, corroborated the pilot's statement. After examining the video tape, a Federal Aviation Administration inspector, who is also a balloon pilot examiner, said the landing was made under high wind conditions. He added that the pilot should have used a high wind landing technique. He said the vent line should have been pulled prior to ground contact to deflate the envelope and prevent an ascent and minimize ground dragging the basket.