NYC01LA150
NYC01LA150

On June 9, 2001, about 1945 Eastern Daylight Time, a Raven S60A balloon, N28282, received minor damage during a tethered flight in Mumford, New York. The certificated commercial pilot and three passengers were not injured, but one ground crewman was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan had been filed for the local personal flight, which was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot, he was giving passenger rides during a private event at the Genesee Country Museum. The pilot obtained a weather briefing about 1600, and arrived at the museum site about 1630. He inflated the balloon, and by 1715, had completed several liftoffs and landings. However, because wind conditions were unfavorable at the time, the balloon was deflated.

About 1900, when the pilot observed that the wind had diminished to 4-5 mph, the balloon was reinflated, and tethered flight began. The balloon was tethered to two vehicles on the ground, with a third line manned by a ground crew. The pilot initially ascended the balloon to 50-75 feet to verify attachment of the tether lines, then landed, and began conducting passenger flights.

About 1945, while the balloon was aloft, winds increased, and the balloon began to descend rapidly. The pilot added heat to slow the descent, and once the basket contacted the ground, ground crew handlers grabbed the basket handling lines to hold it down. The basket bounced, and the balloon then began to ascend. One handler shouted to let go, and two of the three handlers released the basket. A third handler continued to hold on until she lost her grip, when the basket was about 15-20 feet in the air. Upon hitting the ground, she suffered a broken leg.

The handler who was injured stated that when a wind gust hit the balloon, one of the two vehicles it was tethered to moved about 3 feet. The pilot landed the balloon, and as she and the other two handlers grabbed the basket, it began to rise again. She heard one of the other handlers shout to let go; however, she "got very scared and froze." She tried to maintain her hold as the balloon ascended, but was wearing work gloves, and lost her grip. She remembered looking down as she fell, and remembered hitting the ground.

In addition to the injury to the ground handler, the non-load-bearing 3-foot high balloon skirt was blown into the burner flame sometime between the wind gust and the final landing (witness recollections differ). Approximately 50 percent of the nylon material was melted.

Weather, recorded at an airport approximately 20 miles to the north about the time of the accident, included winds from 290 degrees true, at 4 knots. Weather recorded 1 hour prior and 1 hour later included winds at 9 knots.


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