On January 12, 2002, approximately 0849 central standard time, a Raven S60A hot air balloon, N804DL, registered to the pilot, sustained minor damage when it collided with power lines while landing in a vacant field near La Vernia, Texas. The commercial pilot and five passengers were not injured. One passenger was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the sightseeing flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The local flight originated from the Zuehl Airport (1TE4) near Marion, Texas. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the police report from the Wilson County Sheriff's Department, the pilot stated that the wind started blowing harder as he was attempting to land the balloon in an open field south of a residential subdivision. The pilot thought that he was in an alley with power lines running north and south, but at the last minute, noticed a row of power lines running east and west that were in his flight path. The pilot attempted to fly over the lines, but the balloon's basket collided with the power lines. One of the severed power lines struck and electrocuted a passenger.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the pilot had accrued a total of 900 hours of flight time, of which, 30 hours were in the same make and model of the hot hair balloon involved in the accident.
At 0743, the aviation weather observing system at Stinson Municipal Airport (SSF), near San Antonio, Texas, approximately 15 nautical miles west from the site of the accident, reported wind from 290 degrees at 3 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, a clear sky, temperature 37 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 30 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure setting of 30.24 inches of Mercury.
This mishap was originally reported as an "incident," since the damage to the balloon was reported as minor and the injuries to the passenger were incorrectly reported as "minor." Approximately 31 months after the occurrence, the NTSB learned that the injuries to the passenger were "severe," and it has now become classified as an "accident."