DEN06CA108
DEN06CA108

On July 27, 2006, approximately 0800 mountain daylight time, a Firefly Balloons Galaxy 11B, N2190S, registered to and operated by the pilot, sustained a hard landing in a field in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The balloon was not damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 without a flight plan. One passenger received a serious injury, and the pilot reported a minor injury. Seven other passengers were not injured. The local flight originated at Rio Rancho, New Mexico, approximately 0655.

The pilot reported they had been aloft for about 45 minutes. The wind had shifted several times and he decided to land in an open field. There were power lines that bordered the field. The pilot ascended to clear the power lines but the wind shifted again and carried the balloon toward trees and the Rio Grande. The pilot vented the balloon "less than 30 feet above the ground and did a steep end landing in less than 3 knots. The balloon came down with low impact, bounced once, about 3 feet and came to a stop upright."

Passengers told an FAA inspector that the pilot attempted to slow the descent by activating one burner of a two-burner system. He tried lighting the burner with a striker, but it would not stay lit due to insufficient fuel. The balloon landed hard and bounced. One passenger, who was holding on to a strap, fractured her arm when she struck it with her head.

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