IAD04CA045
IAD04CA045

On August 25, 2004, at 1935 eastern daylight time, a Cameron Balloons Z-90, N1032B, operated by Windjammer Balloons, was undamaged during a hard landing near York, Pennsylvania. The certificated commercial pilot and 1 passenger were not injured. One passenger sustained serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the local commercial sightseeing flight, conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to a written statement submitted by the pilot, he briefed both passengers prior to takeoff, and specifically briefed them on landing procedures, which included bending their knees, facing the direction of travel, holding on, and remaining standing. Shortly after the launch, an onboard global positioning system (GPS) receiver indicated that the wind speed was 8 miles per hour (mph).

About 30 minutes into the flight, the onboard GPS receiver indicated that the winds had increased to 16 mph. The pilot advised his passengers and the ground crew that they would be landing as soon as possible. He also advised his crew to be prepared for a "drop line" landing.

The pilot began to descend the balloon over a soybean field, and lowered the drop line to the ground crew. The GPS indicated that the balloon was traveling at 12 mph, and after the crew grabbed the drop line, 8 mph. The pilot then repeated the landing instructions to the passengers, and indicated that they should brace themselves for a very hard landing.

Shortly before touchdown, the pilot pulled the vent line to release some of the heat [from the envelope], and ensure the balloon did not bounce. The basket "hit the ground, and tipped over, and [the pilot] deflated the balloon immediately." After landing, one of the passengers complained of back pain and was taken by ambulance to the hospital.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the passenger's injuries, which required 3 days of hospitalization, occurred during the hard landing.

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