CHI05CA133
CHI05CA133

On May 27, 2005, at 1940 central daylight time, an Aerostar S-57A balloon, N71072, piloted by a private pilot, sustained minor damage when a wind gust was encountered while landing. The tethered balloon flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The pilot sustained serious injuries. The two passengers were not injured.

In his written statement, the pilot reported that he obtained a preflight weather briefing during which he was advised that forecast winds were to be from 220 - 250 degrees at 7 knots. He noted that he initially departed from his residence on a free balloon flight about 1840, which proceeded in an easterly direction. He reported that about 1920 he landed adjacent to Highway 125, about 4 miles south of Linden, Missouri. He stated that no unusual weather activity was observed during that flight and winds remained light.

The pilot stated that after landing he elected to provide tethered balloon rides for residents in the area. He reported that while descending to land after the final ride, while about 30 feet above ground level, a "strong north wind suddenly hit the balloon." He estimated the wind gust was 25 miles per hour. He stated that the balloon began to travel toward the south at a "rapid speed," which resulted in a hard landing in the next field. He reported that he pulled the vent line in an attempt to deflate the balloon envelope. The pilot stated that he was subsequently "bounced out" of the basket and was dragged through the field. The pilot reported that the balloon "relaunched" itself in the high wind and flew into a tree. He was no longer able to hold onto the vent line and fell about 20 feet to the ground. The pilot suffered a fractured pelvis and compressed vertebrae.

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