CEN10CA456
CEN10CA456

The pilot was participating in the Great Texas Balloon Race. According to his accident report, while inflating the balloon he thought the burner gimble was loose, but it seemed to be stable by the fuel lines held by the upright covers. Witnesses said that as the balloon approached the target area, it appeared to be slightly below a set of telephone wires. The pilot saw the wires and added heat to gain altitude. As he leaned over the side of the basket with his hand on the burner assembly, he inadvertently pulled the burner assembly off center of the envelope throat. The pilot said he released his hold on the burners momentarily and vented the envelope to lose altitude, then activated the burner to slow the descent. The burner moved to the side and burned the skirt, 22 envelope panels and "3 or 4" load tapes. The balloon master and an FAA inspector were on site watching the competition and instructed the pilot to land. The pilot made an uneventful landing and secured the balloon in the target area. The pilot wrote that he felt that if the burner system had a centering devise or springs (as is the case with the Raven, Aerostar, Balloon Works, and Eagle Balloon systems), this problem would have been avoided. The pilot stated, "The attention to the attitude of the balloon should not be interrupted with having to look up to see if the burners are pointed in the right direction. I believe it would not take much engineering to add a centering device, such as springs or a centering device, which would keep the burners centered if the screws or bolts are loosened due perhaps to vibration from driving." Statements submitted by a witness and an FAA safety technician corroborated the pilot's statement.

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