Saturday, June 11, 2016

Cameron A-225, Balloons Over Letchworth, N69515: Fatal accident occurred June 10, 2016 in Nunda, New York


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Rochester FSDO-23

NTSB Identification: ERA16LA210
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 10, 2016 in Nunda, NY
Aircraft: CAMERON A-225, registration: N69515
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 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 10, 2016, about 2030 eastern daylight time, a Cameron Balloon A-225, N69515, unintentionally lifted off after landing in a field in Nunda, New York, and was not damaged. The pilot was not injured; however, a ground crewmember was fatally injured after he attempted to secure the basket. The balloon was operated by the owner and doing business as Balloons Over Letchworth as a day, visual flight rules, passenger flight under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight originated from Letchworth State Park, Castile, New York.

The pilot reported that the flight with 10 passengers lasted about 45 minutes with winds from the northwest between 3 and 5 mph. During the descent the pilot contacted the ground crew and determined a suitable location for landing, which was a cut hay field. Immediately after landing, the passengers disembarked one at a time as the balloon remained inflated, but being weighed down by four ground crew employees. After the passengers got out of the basket, the ground crew was intending to "walk" the balloon over to the truck and trailer parked about 30 feet away.

As the pilot began unclasping the vent lines, and with the last passenger off, the balloon began a sudden ascent and drifted over a nearby hedgerow. As it approached nearby trees, he added a blast of hot air to get over the trees and ascended to about 200 feet above ground level (agl). During the ascent, he heard his name being called, but thought it was coming from his radio. When he heard his name called again, he realized that one of the ground crewmembers was hanging onto one of the handling ropes below the basket.

The pilot could not see the individual because he was in the middle of the basket near the controls. The pilot called out and said "…are you with me?" to which the ground crewmember acknowledged. The pilot further reported that he told the ground crewmember to hold on and that he would get him down safely, which was acknowledged. Several moments later, about 100 feet agl, the ground crewmember fell from the basket and was fatally injured. The pilot radioed in to call 911 and landed the balloon safely about 1 mile away.

The balloon was manufactured in 2016 and had accumulated 33.2 hours of total flight time. The basket contained sixteen rope handles along the bottom perimeter of the basket; three on each side, and 5 along the length.

Federal Aviation Administration inspectors arrived on scene and secured the balloon for further examination.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email,  and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Ryan R. Almeter

Obituary for Ryan R. Almeter

Date Of Birth: November 6, 1981
Date Of Death: June 10, 2016

Ryan R. Almeter, of E. Main St., Bliss, died Friday June 10, 2016 in the Town of Nunda at the age of 34.

He was born November 6, 1981 in Warsaw a son of Gordon and Karen (nee Elliott) Almeter. He was a 1999 graduate of Letchworth Central School, Gainesville; a graduate of Genesee Community College, Batavia and received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Geneseo State College.

He was a High School Mathematics teacher for the past eight years at Keshequa Central School in Nunda and had previously taught math with the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership for four years and also taught math in the Rochester City School District. He had coached the high school chess team since 2014, was advisor to the math club and a class advisor, and a former officer of the Keshequa Teachers Association. He would also serve as a tutor when needed. He also worked for Balloons Over Letchworth.

He was a member of the Valley Chapel Methodist Church in Warsaw; was a former Historian for the Town of Eagle; was a coach with the Letchworth Central Cal Ripken Little League. He was an avid pop can/aluminum collector and also collected Shell tractors.

He is survived by his wife - Sarah (nee Phillips) Almeter whom he married July 24, 2004 in Warsaw; three children - Noah, Maggie & Sophia; his parents - Gordon and Karen Almeter of Bliss; three sisters - Michelle Reding of Bliss, Amy Almeter of Knoxville, TN, Kimberly (James) Ary of Knoxville, TN; his parents-in-law - David and Janet Phillips of Silver Springs; brothers-in-law - Chip (Sarah) Matthews of Silver Springs, David II (Judy) Phillips of Silver Springs, Tedd (Julie) Phillips of Silver Springs, Andrew (Joy) Phillips of Syracuse, Vern (Laurie) Phillips of Ocala, FL; grandparents - Clifford Elliott of Pavilion; Cal and Elizabeth Phillips of Silver Springs; nieces - Allison and Kaliegh Reding, nephew - Evan Reding along with many Phillips nieces and nephews and many, many friends.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the family for the establishment of a Ryan Almeter Math Scholarship at Keshequa Central School.

Read more here:

NUNDA, NY - A member of a hot-air balloon crew died after falling from the aircraft in Livingston County Friday night in what the owner called “a freak accident.”

Ryan Almeter, a 34-year-old high school teacher, was among crew members helping to hold down the balloon's basket after passengers had alighted when the wind pulled the balloon back up into the air, the New York State Police said.

Other crew members let go immediately but Almeter held on until the basket was about 100 feet off the ground. He then lost his grip and fell to his death, troopers said.

The accident, which involved the Balloons Over Letchworth company, occurred around 9 p.m. near Picket Line Road in Nunda, Livingston County. It occurred after the successful conclusion to the outing, owner Sean Quigley said in an email Saturday morning.

"The balloon landed perfectly and safely. All passengers were out of the balloon basket," he wrote. "This was a freak accident to one of my cherished balloon chase crew. This was not a balloon crash as has been reported."

He said the accident remained under investigation.

Almeter, who lived in Bliss, Wyoming County, had been a math teacher at Keshequa High School in Nunda for the last eight years, Keshequa Central School District superintendent Thomas Kopp said Saturday. Almeter sponsored the chess and math clubs, served as a tutor and as a class advisor.

"Mr. Almeter was a well-loved teacher here by both students and staff," Kopp said. Counsellors will be at the school Monday to assist students or staff who needs support.

Balloons Over Letchworth takes paying customers on excursions over and around the spectacular scenery at Letchworth State Park on the border of Livingston and Wyoming counties. Quigley has been a hot-air balloon pilot since 1987, according to the company website, and has logged more than 2,000 flights.

Story and video:

Update: Crew member killed in hot air balloon accident in Livingston Co. identified

Troopers say a man was killed Friday night in a tragic hot balloon accident in Livingston County.

We're told it happened at the end of a hot air balloon ride in Nunda. Investigators say the victim was an employee for Balloons Over Letchworth.

Troopers tell News10NBC the victim, 34-year-old Ryan Almeter, was killed while crew members were helping passengers get out of the basket at the end of the trip.

Troopers tell us that Mr. Almeter was holding onto a rope to let passengers off when the balloon starting to rise back into the air. Mr. Almeter held onto the rope and was lifted about 100 feet off the ground before falling. He suffered serious injuries as a result of the fall and later died. However, none of the passengers were injured.

Right now, troopers say they aren't sure why the balloon began to rise again after the landing. They also don't know why Mr. Almeter wasn't able to let go of the rope sooner.

Troopers say that the investigation is still ongoing. 

Story and video:

NUNDA, N.Y. -- State police have identified the man who died after falling from a hot air balloon in Livingston County last night.

The Keshequa Central School District confirms that 34-year-old Ryan Almeter was a teacher at the high school.

State police say the accident happened in a field off of Picket line Road in Nunda just after 9 p.m. Friday.

They say Almeter was a crew member of Balloons over Letchworth.

Troopers say Almeter was restraining the basket of a hot air balloon on the ground when a gust of wind lifted up in the air.

They say the balloon reached about 100 feet when Almeter let go of the basket and fell.

Almeter was pronounced dead at the scene. 

The Keshequa high school says it will make grief counselors available to students Monday morning.

State police are continuing to investigate.

Story and video:

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