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N87SB accident description

New Mexico map... New Mexico list
Crash location 35.040000°N, 106.609167°W
Nearest city Albuquerque, NM
35.084491°N, 106.651137°W
3.9 miles away
Tail number N87SB
Accident date 10 Oct 2004
Aircraft type Aerostar SP-1
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On October 10, 2004, approximately 0825 mountain daylight time, an Aerostar SP-1 balloon, N87SB, was destroyed when it impacted a radio tower while attempting to climb near Albuquerque, New Mexico. The commercial pilot and two passengers were not injured. The balloon was registered to and operated by Friends of Smokey the Bear Balloon, Inc., Albuquerque. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 sightseeing flight. The local flight departed the Balloon Fiesta Field, Albuquerque, approximately 0710.

According to the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report, the pilot received a briefing prior to launching the balloon, which included weather information. After departure, the pilot flew south over the Balloon Fiesta Field for approximately 20 minutes. The pilot initiated a climb to 1,500 feet agl, and then flew to the north for 20 to 30 minutes. The balloon encountered a "gentle" breeze from the east, and the pilot decended the balloon to 300 feet agl, to find a safe landing area. The balloon encountered a breeze from the west which directed the balloon towards the Balloon Fiesta Field. The pilot reported, "Suddenly, a strong gust from the east pushed [the balloon] west...toward the radio towers." The pilot searched for a landing area; however, several obstacles prevented an attempted landing. The pilot attempted to climb the balloon over the towers; however, the balloon impacted near the top of a 640-foot tall tower and came to rest entangled with the tower. The pilot and passengers evacuated the basket and climbed down the radio tower.

NTSB Probable Cause

the pilot's failure to maintain clearance with the radio tower. Contributing factors were the pilot's improper compensation for the variable wind conditions.

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