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N9528A accident description

New Mexico map... New Mexico list
Crash location 35.314722°N, 106.648611°W
Nearest city Rio Rancho, NM
35.233375°N, 106.664472°W
5.7 miles away
Tail number N9528A
Accident date 09 Oct 2013
Aircraft type LU8(AF) Cameron Balloons Us V 77(NTSB)
Additional details: White; visible from the air

NTSB Factual Report

On October 9, 2013, about 0845 mountain daylight time, a Cameron V-77 hot air balloon, N9528A, impacted a power line while on approach to land in a field near Rio Ranch, New Mexico. The commercial pilot and passenger on board received serious injuries and the balloon was substantially damaged. The balloon was registered to and being operated by a private individual as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight originated at Fiesta Field, Albuquerque, New Mexico, at 0730.

The pilot reported they took off from Fiesta Field and had been in the air for a little over an hour when the accident occurred. The pilot made three attempts to land. The wind was "too hard" on the first attempt. The next attempt, they found themselves over a residential subdivision and as they got close to the ground there were cars and other obstacles that prevented them from landing. The pilot then saw an open area on the other side of a street with power lines running along it. His intent was to get over the power lines and then drop the balloon down on the ground.

The pilot reported they were over the road and a couple of feet above where the tops of the power lines were, when the balloon dropped and struck the power lines. He engaged the burner to get off and over them. The basket slid off the first two wires, but touched the third wire. There was an electrical short and then an explosion. The passenger was in the part of the basket where the explosion occurred. The pilot reported the explosion was the last thing he remembered until he found himself on the ground with the envelope going down. He tried to assist the passenger out of the basket and put out the fire that was burning the basket.

The pilot received burns to his arms and face. The passenger received severe burns along his arm, such that the arm had to later be amputated.

At 0852, the weather conditions at the Albuquerque International Airport, 15 miles south-southeast of Rio Rancho, were wind calm, visibility 10 statute miles, few clouds at 20,000 feet, temperature 55 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dew point, 34 degrees F, and altimeter 30.02 inches of Mercury.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate clearance from power lines on approach to land, resulting in a collision with the wires, a spark, and a subsequent explosion and on-board fire.

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