On October 2, 1998, at 1400 eastern daylight time, a ground handler received serious injuries while a Goodyear Aerospace GZ-20-A, an airship, N3A, owned and operated by the Goodyear Rubber and Tire Company, was being moored at Laurence G. Hanscom Field (BED), Bedford, Massachusetts. The airship was not damaged. The certificated commercial pilot, co-pilot, and two passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the positioning flight that originated from Teterboro Airport (TEB), approximately 0600. No flight plan had been filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot, on the flight from Teterboro to Bedford, they had "favorable" winds which caused them to arrive 2 hours prior to the ground crew, that was also traveling from Teterboro. After arriving at Bedford, the pilot landed and waited for the ground crew to arrive and assemble the mooring mast. Once the mast was assembled, the ground crew "took over" and the pilot assisted with thrust to move the airship upwind to the mooring mast. The pilot added that the conditions at the time of the accident were challenging, but not uncommon in their operation.

The injured ground handler added that getting a "handle" on the airship was very difficult, and required three attempts. In addition, he was moving from one recovery position to another trying to provide assistance where needed most. Once the pull-in-line was set, the injured ground handler went to assist. While using his 200 pound body to help pull in the airship, the injured ground handler watched the airship rise up over the "mast cup" breaking the cable. The ground handler then fell from a standing position to the ground, injuring his back.

The pilot estimated that the broken cable was approximately 1/16 of an inch in diameter, and had broke about 2/3 from the nose spindle, leaving about 16 feet still attached. He added that the cable was used for guiding, more then load bearing, and that he is aware of four or five previous cable brakes, but recalls no one being injured.

The pilot stated that in addition to the wind speed and gusty conditions, a 300 foot hill, and a couple of hangars up wind of the mooring point, created "mechanical turbulence" which added to the complexity of the mooring operation.

The injured ground handler added that the mooring conditions were not unusual, and in any given 12 month period, they could expect to conduct two or three recoveries in similar conditions.

The winds reported at the airport at the time of the accident were from 280 degrees at 16 knots, gusting to 24.

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