LAX04CA221
LAX04CA221

On May 22, 2004, at 0915 Pacific daylight time, an American Blimp Corporation A-1-50 airship, N1542P, collided with a building during takeoff at the North Las Vegas Airport, North Las Vegas, Nevada. Lightship America Corporation was operating the airship under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The airline transport pilot and single crewmember were not injured, and the airship was substantially damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the positioning flight to Long Beach, California.

The pilot told the National Transportation Safety Board investigator that the airship was fully loaded with fuel and ballast. There were two nose ropes manned with three people each. The crew released the airship from the mooring mast to conduct its weigh-out and takeoff. A gust of wind or thermal caused the ship to translate to the right. The manned nose ropes were ineffective in controlling the movement.

The pilot decided to execute a takeoff. However, being fully loaded, the airship was slow to respond despite the pilot's application of full power, full left rudder, and full up elevator control inputs. The landing gear hit the barbed wire chain link airport fence, and then the airship settled on to a one-story building. The ground crew released the ballast and moved the airship back to the airfield. A second thermal or wind gust pushed the airship in to the next building over. The crew deflated the entire envelope and removed it off the building.

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