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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: DCA16MA204
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 30, 2016 in Lockhart, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/29/2017
Aircraft: KUBICEK BB85, registration: N2469L
Injuries: 16 Fatal.

NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The NTSB's full report is available at The Aircraft Accident Report number is NTSB/AAR-17/03.

On July 30, 2016, about 0742 central daylight time, a Balóny Kubícek BB85Z hot air balloon, N2469L, operated by Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides, struck power lines and crashed in a field near Lockhart, Texas. The pilot and 15 passengers died, and the balloon was destroyed by impact forces and postcrash fire. The balloon was owned and operated by the pilot, and the flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a sightseeing passenger flight. The flight originated about 0658, just after sunrise, from Fentress Airpark, Fentress, Texas.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot's pattern of poor decision-making that led to the initial launch, continued flight in fog and above clouds, and descent near or through clouds that decreased the pilot's ability to see and avoid obstacles. Contributing to the accident were (1) the pilot's impairing medical conditions and medications and (2) the Federal Aviation Administration's policy to not require a medical certificate for commercial balloon pilots.