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On October 9, 1993, approximately 0928 mountain daylight time, N4058A, a Balloon Works Firefly 7, was destroyed when it collided with power lines and terrain while participating in the annual Albuquerque international Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight.
The following is based on 15 written witness statements that are attached to this report. The weather was sunny and clear, but surface winds had increased to 10 to 20 knots during the course of the morning flights. One pilot-witness encountered a wind shear that caused him to land hard about 30 minutes before the accident. Another pilot-witness decided not to fly because of the wind, and assisted other pilots with their landings. He said there had been "lots of rough landings" that morning.
N4058A flew in a southerly direction at an estimated speed of 4 to 8 knots. It was above the power lines but descended rapidly, "as if being pushed from above." The envelope was variously described as being "distorted," "pancaked," and "deflating rapidly." One witness wrote, "The gondola was turning and swinging as though it was caught up in the wind. The envelope seemed to fill with air and deflate again." The pilot activated the propane burner in an attempt to ascend. Witnesses reported seeing a flash, hearing a "pop," and observing the basket fall to the ground and the envelope drift away.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Seven of the 18 stainless steel suspension cables were charred, and the cable strands were welded together. The other 11 cables
had a "feathered" appearance. The skirt around the envelope was charred, as were two sides of the triangular-shaped basket.
The following information was provided by Public Service Company of New Mexico. The power line poles that support the four cables struck by the balloon were 92 feet above the ground. The top line was a 3/8 inch steel static line. Below were the first, second, and third phase conductors (477 MCM, million circular mil), carrying 115,000 volts phase-to-phase and 69,000 volts phase-to-static. At the point where the balloon contacted the lines, the cable heights were 86, 74, 64, and 54 feet above the ground, respectively. The static line was scraped and sooted, and the first phase conductor was pitted and sooted. There was no damage to the second and third phase conductors. Power company instruments recorded a power interruption fault at this location at 0928.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Autopsies and toxicological screens were conducted on both the pilot and passenger by the New Mexico State Medical Examiner's Office in Albuquerque, New Mexico. An additional toxicological screen was performed on the pilot by FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The results of these toxicological screens are attached to this report.
The wreckage was released to the pilot's wife and balloon co- owner on October 9, 1993.