LAX06CA046
LAX06CA046

On November 25, 2005, about 1636 Pacific standard time, a Cameron N-180, N4506B, struck a tree while attempting to land in a field near Rancho Santa Fe, California. Silvertop, Inc., operated the balloon under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The commercial pilot, 1 crewmember, and 10 passengers were not injured; the balloon sustained substantial damage. The local for hire sightseeing flight departed Del Mar, California, about 1608, with a planned destination of Rancho Santa Fe. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

In a written statement to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator, the pilot said that he was descending to land in a golf course at the time of the accident and collided with a tree short of the intended landing zone after inadvertently shutting off the number 2 burner. The crossover valve for that burner is in close proximity to the burner handle. About 30 feet above the ground, the balloon collided with an eucalyptus tree. The balloon envelope tore slowly enough to safely drop the basket to the ground. No injuries were reported when the pilot interviewed the passengers immediately following the accident.

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