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N4021M accident description

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Crash location 42.306389°N, 85.221111°W
Nearest city Battle Creek, MI
42.321152°N, 85.179714°W
2.3 miles away
Tail number N4021M
Accident date 02 Jul 2007
Aircraft type Cameron Balloons Z-77
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

The balloon was substantially damaged after it landed and caught fire during the Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot Air Balloon Festival. The pilot stated that after approximately one hour in the air, the balloon landed safely in a yard. When the pilot looked up inside the top of the balloon envelope, the "parachute top did not reseat." He attempted to reseat the top by using a "blast of heat" from the burners but it did not work. The pilot "knew the balloon would quickly sink down on top of the basket" so he turned the burners to their horizontal position and prepared to push the envelope fabric away. When the balloon envelope began to descend towards the ground the pilot reported that "we suddenly had a fire in the basket." Both the pilot and passenger were able to exit the basket. The pilot "determined the fire was coming from the burners" so he returned to the basket and turned off the fuel tanks. The fire was subsequently extinguished by the passenger and bystanders.

An examination of the balloon after the accident revealed the fuel valve for the whisper burners was in the "on" position.

NTSB Probable Cause

The whisper burner's fuel valve opening for undetermined reasons, which resulted in a fire after landing. A factor in the accident was the balloon envelope's parachute top not reseating.

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