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N4031Z accident description

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Crash location 35.000000°N, 106.600278°W
Nearest city Albuquerque, NM
35.084491°N, 106.651137°W
6.5 miles away
Tail number N4031Z
Accident date 15 Jun 2003
Aircraft type Adams Balloon A55
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On June 15, 2003, at approximately 0830 mountain daylight time, an Adams Balloon A55, N4031Z, was destroyed when it struck power lines while landing near Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ), Albuquerque, New Mexico. The private pilot was seriously injured and his passenger received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the local flight being operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated from the intersection of Coors and Irving streets in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at 0700.

According to the pilot, he was approaching a vacant field on the north side of Rio Bravo Street for landing. The balloon passed over a hot, paved parking lot. Unexpectedly, the balloon rotated and descended onto a live power line at the edge of the lot. The pilot said he attempted to recover; however, the balloon continued to sink. The pilot stated the bottom third of the basket struck the top power line. The pilot said "the speed at which the balloon was traveling forward was so slow that the wire brought the basket to a halt instead of snapping [the wire] in half."

The basket stopped moving forward but the balloon envelope continued moving forward to a "45 degree angle," and then came to a stop. Subsequently, the basket slid down the power line towards the ground. The power line came in contact with the suspension cable, "allowing electricity to run up the side of the balloon through the digital temperature wire." A fire ignited at the top of the balloon envelope when the electricity reached the temperature sensor. The pilot stated the "pressure inside the balloon" rose, causing "a blast in the balloon that blew the top out,...draping the envelope over the live wire." The fire was extinguished by the crew. Another fire erupted under the basket and was extinguished by the pilot. The pilot and passenger remained in the basket, which was resting on top of the power line, until a boom truck arrived.

NTSB Probable Cause

the pilot's improper planned approach for a landing and obstacle clearance not maintained. A contributing factor was the power lines.

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