14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, June 15, 2014 in Spring City, PA
Aircraft: CAMERON BALLOONS US Z-225, registration: N65625
Injuries: 1 Fatal,10 Uninjured.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On June 15, 2014, about 0715 eastern daylight time, a Cameron Balloons US Z-225 balloon, N65625, had the commercial-rated pilot receive fatal injuries when he fell from the basket during landing in a field near Spring City, Pennsylvania. The 10 passengers were not injured. There was no damage to the basket or envelope. The balloon was registered to Morning Star Visions, and operated by The United States Hot Air Balloon Team under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 revenue sightseeing flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the flight that originated about 0620 from Pottstown Municipal Airport, Pottstown, Pennsylvania.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration inspector-in-charge (FAA-IIC), the pilot was attempting to land in an open field of newly planted corn at the time of the accident.
One passenger reported they were given landing instructions by the pilot which included to crouch down and hold onto a rope. The passenger indicated the pilot informed them he was attempting to contact the top of trees to slow the balloon, but in fact the balloon cleared the trees. The basket rocked back and forth on the ground several times, and the passenger noted the pilot reached for a rope but somehow lost his balance and fell out of the basket. When the basket came to rest, another passenger pulled a rope, and she yelled for all to get out of the basket. She and her daughter went to the pilot, and then ran to a nearby residence to summon help.
N65625 CAMERON Z-225 HOT AIR BALLOON, ON LANDING IN A FIELD, 1 PERSON ON BOARD WAS EJECTED OUT OF THE BASKET AND WAS FATALLY INJURED, CHESTER COUNTY, NEAR SPRING CITY, PA
Flight Standards District Office: FAA Philadelphia FSDO-17:
MORNING STAR VISIONS: http://registry.faa.gov/N65625
Described by family members as adventurous, Jeff Hooten piloted balloons at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and founded an entertainment company. He graduated from Hope Christian School in 1985.
An Albuquerque man known for being a daredevil died of an apparent heart attack or some other type of a medical emergency while landing a hot-air balloon in Pennsylvania on Sunday.
Jeff Hooten, 47, managed to safely land the balloon despite his condition, and none of his 10 passengers was injured, said his father, Bill Hooten. The younger Hooten was working for U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team.
An autopsy was performed Monday.
Hooten, who grew up in Albuquerque and graduated from Hope Christian school in 1985, had piloted balloons at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and founded Jeff Hooten Entertainment. The company included a disc jockey and children’s entertainment business.
Hooten’s family members said he was adventurous, with a long history of skydiving, piloting and sailing.
“To know he died of natural causes after all that. Honestly, that’s the most shocking part (about his death),” said his sister, Kay Ostrom.
Hooten several years ago gave control of the entertainment company to his father, Bill Hooten, and lived in Albuquerque for only a few months a year. He spent most of his time traveling North America to work as a balloon pilot.
“He had nine lives,” his father said.
Jeff Hooten’s sense of adventure had landed him in trouble. He captained a sailboat into a squall near Catalina Island, Calif., and spent a night stranded at sea, his first parachute didn’t open one time while skydiving, he crashed a self-built ultralight plane, he got the bends scuba-diving in the Cayman Islands and he broke bones several times while skydiving or riding horses.
An attempt to sky dive into University Stadium before a Lobos football game ended when he got stuck in a nearby tree due to unanticipated winds.
Phyllis Hooten, his mother, said she was amazed to look at her son’s Facebook page the night of his death, and see the outpouring of people who wrote notes about their adventures with him.
“They weren’t grieving,” she said. “They were writing about their experiences with him from all four corners of the world.”
Hooten had three children: 18-year-old daughter MacKenzie, 20-year-old son Jefferson, and 26-year-old stepdaughter Taryn.
KIMBERTON, Pa. (AP) — The pilot of a hot air balloon fell from the basket while trying to land in a field near Philadelphia and could not be revived after becoming trapped under it, authorities said Monday.
Jeff Hooten, 47, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, died Sunday after the accident in East Pikeland Township, police said. None of the 10 passengers was injured.
Hooten was reaching to grab a rope to deflate the balloon when he fell, according to police Chief James Franciscus. The pilot was dragged after becoming stuck between the basket and the ground, Franciscus said.
People were performing CPR when officers arrived, but Hooten died later at a hospital, according to police.
A statement from the Federal Aviation Administration said preliminary information indicated that Hooten fell out when the balloon bounced after a hard landing.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating. The NTSB did not have any other details by early Monday afternoon.
The balloon was operated by the U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team of Warwick. Spokesman Stan Hess said he did not want to comment until an autopsy was complete.
The Chester County coroner's office had not released a cause of death by Monday afternoon.
NTSB Identification: ERA13LA212
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, April 21, 2013 in Chester Springs, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/11/2013
Aircraft: CAMERON BALLOONS US Z-225, registration: N65625
Injuries: 3 Serious,7 Minor,1 Uninjured.
NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
During an approximate 1-hour balloon flight, the wind increased as the pilot was preparing to land. The pilot preferred to land on asphalt, but missed several landing spots due to the wind and elected to land on the mowed lawn of a residence. Just prior to landing, the pilot instructed the passengers how to brace themselves and added that the landing was going to be rough due to the wind. The balloon subsequently contacted trees just prior to touchdown. As the balloon touched down on the lawn, the gondola tipped on its side and passengers were jostled about and out of the gondola. During which, one of the passengers or the pilot likely inadvertently contacted the burner switch, which caused a propane flash and burned three of the ten passengers.
When asked about why the pilot flames on the burners were still on during the landing, the pilot replied that the pilot flame is usually extinguished on smaller balloons prior to landing. Larger balloons, such as the accident balloon, have three burners and it takes some time to extinguish the pilot flames as it is not just a matter of moving a switch. Review of a flight manual for the accident balloon make and model revealed that the normal procedures for approaching to land, instructed the pilot to shut off the pilot light connection just before touchdown in high winds. Review of the flight manual emergency procedures for preparation for a hard landing, instructed the pilot to extinguish the pilot flames by closing the pilot light valves at the burners or by disconnecting the vapor hose quick disconnects at the tanks.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to extinguish the burner pilot lights prior to a hard landing in windy conditions.
On April 21, 2013, about 0735 eastern daylight time, a Cameron Balloons US Z-225, N65625, operated by U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team, sustained minor damage during a collision with trees and hard landing near a residence in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania. The commercial pilot and six passengers incurred minor injuries, while three passengers were seriously injured and one passenger was not injured. The local sightseeing flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight that departed Pottstown Municipal Airport (N47), Pottstown, Pennsylvania, about 0635.
The pilot reported that he obtained a weather briefing prior to the accident flight, which departed about 30 minutes behind schedule. The departure and flight were uneventful; however, as he was preparing to land, the wind increased. The pilot attempted to land on a mowed lawn, but the balloon contacted trees just prior to the lawn. As the balloon touched down on the lawn, the gondola tipped on its side and a propane flash occurred.
Several of the passengers reported that the flight departed about 30 to 60 minutes late due to a dead battery in one of the supporting ground vehicles. One passenger added that the pilot was in a hurry to takeoff as he was concerned about the increase in wind speed as the morning progressed. Two of the passengers stated that the pilot mentioned it was weird that they were the only balloon flying that morning. After flying for approximately 1 hour, the pilot wanted to land on asphalt; however, he had missed several landing spots and elected to land on grass. Just prior to landing, the pilot instructed the passengers how to brace themselves and added that the landing was going to be rough due to the wind.
Passengers further stated that during the touchdown and tipping, the occupants were jostled about and out of the gondola. One passenger added that during which, something or someone fell on the burner switch, which caused a propane flash and burned three of the passengers. The other passenger injuries were described as scrapes, bruising, or muscle soreness as a result of the impact with trees and subsequent hard landing.
Two of the passengers that received burns were a husband and wife, with the husband's burns more severe and to the face and head. The husband stated that during the hard landing, before the burner flash, he was yelling for someone to turn the pilot flames off. The husband and wife also reported that after the accident, the pilot asked them if they wanted him to drive them to the hospital or call 911. They both replied that they would like to be driven to the hospital. The husband later stated that he was in shock at the time and in retrospect, an ambulance would have been a better option for faster medical treatment. Several other passengers stated that once everyone was in a van, there was an approximate 5 to 10-minute delay in departing for the hospital while the pilot conferred with ground crew. One passenger stated that during that time, the pilot was pushing dirt with his feet into ground scars created by the hard landing.
During a telephone interview, when asked about the wind conditions, the pilot stated that the wind was 4 to 5 knots when he launched on the accident flight and he normally would not launch if the wind was 10 to 12 knots or greater. When asked about why the pilot flames on the burners were still on during the landing, the pilot replied that the pilot flame is usually extinguished on smaller balloons prior to landing. Larger balloons, such as the accident balloon, have three burners and it takes some time to extinguish the pilot flames as it is not just a matter of moving a switch.
Review of a flight manual for the accident balloon make and model revealed:
"…Maximum Demonstrated Surface Wind:
The maximum surface wind speed during launch and landing during FAA type certification flight tests were:
For Launch 10 mph
For Landing 15 mph
These wind speeds are not an operating limitation..."
Review of the flight manual normal procedures revealed:
"…Approach to Land…
Pilot light connection…shut off or popped quick release connection just before touchdown in high winds..."
Review of the flight manual emergency procedures revealed:
"…Preparation For a Hard Landing…
Extinguish the pilot flames(s) by closing the pilot light valves(s) at the burner or by disconnecting the vapor hose quick disconnect(s) at the tanks(s)…"
Heritage Field (PTW), Pottstown, Pennsylvania was located about 5 miles east of the departure point and 10 miles north of the accident site. The recorded wind at PTW, at 0554, was from 340 degrees at 7 knots. The recorded wind at 0654 was from 350 degrees at 3 knots. The recorded wind at 0754 was from 350 degrees at 9 knots, gusting to 14 knots, varying from 280 degrees to 020 degrees.
EAST PIKELAND — A hot air balloon pilot died in the course of making a landing in a township field Sunday morning.
Around 7:45 a.m., the balloon came for a landing in a field near the intersection of Hunsberger Road and South Wall Street just over the Spring City border in East Pikeland.
Scott Haslip lives in the area and said he was on his front porch when he saw the red balloon coming down for a landing. The balloon was operated by the U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team, a company out of Warwick, Chester County.
Multiple sources indicated there were approximately a dozen people in the balloon’s basket.
“It looked pretty routine and successful and I was happy for them,” Haslip said. “Then two women started running from the field toward my house. They tried calling 911 but didn’t know where they were. They said all they knew was they were in some field in Chester County.”
Haslip said the occupants of the basket were a family from New York.
After emergency personnel worked on the pilot at the scene, the pilot was taken to Phoenixville Hospital. It’s unclear exactly where was pronounced dead.
Spring City and East Pikeland Police responded to the scene.
Although Haslip said he was told the landing was made due to a medical emergency the pilot was experiencing, East Pikeland Police Chief James Franciscus said his officers heard the incident resulted from a routine procedure gone wrong.
“When the balloon lands, apparently there’s a rope you have to pull,” Franciscus said. “When (the pilot) reached out to grab this rope, apparently he fell out of the basket. Then he got between the basket and the ground and it dragged him across the ground.”
Stan Hess, of U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team, said what exactly happened to the pilot could not be determined until an autopsy was conducted Monday.
He said all of the passengers in the basket were safe and uninjured.
State police were also at the scene investigating.
Hess said the Federal Aviation Administration already investigated the incident and found no problems with the balloon or the company’s operation.
The name of the pilot was not released Sunday.