Saturday, June 11, 2016

Cameron A-225, N69515, owned and operated by the pilot, who was doing business as Balloons Over Letchworth: Fatal accident occurred June 10, 2016 in Nunda, Livingston County, New York

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Rochester, New York 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

http://registry.faa.gov/N69515

Location: Nunda, NY
Accident Number: ERA16LA210
Date & Time: 06/10/2016, 2030 EDT
Registration: N69515
Aircraft: CAMERON A-225
Aircraft Damage: None
Defining Event: Ground handling event
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Aerial Observation - Sightseeing

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On June 10, 2016, about 2030 eastern daylight time, a Cameron Balloons US A-225, N69515, unintentionally lifted off after landing in a field in Nunda, New York. A ground crewmember was fatally injured in a fall after he attempted to secure the basket, and the commercial pilot was uninjured. The balloon was not damaged. The balloon was owned and operated by the pilot, who was doing business as Balloons Over Letchworth. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the sightseeing flight that was operating under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight originated from Letchworth State Park, Castile, New York, about 1930.

The pilot reported that the flight with 10 passengers lasted about 45 minutes with wind 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 weighed down by four ground crew employees. After the passengers got out of the basket, the ground crew began to "walk" the inflated balloon over to the cart where the deflation and disassembly would take place. The pilot remained in the basket during this process.

The pilot reported that as the balloon was being ground handled, he bent over and began unclasping the vent lines. As he looked up, he saw that the balloon was ascending and drifting toward a nearby hedgerow. The pilot operated the burners to get over the trees and a transmission line. During the ascent, about 150 to 200 ft above ground level (agl), he heard his name being called but thought it was his radio. When he heard his name called again, he realized that one of the ground crewmembers was hanging from ground handling ropes attached to the bottom sides of the basket. The pilot reported that he could not see the crewmember because he was in the middle of the basket near the controls and that the basket was padded, which made it hard for him to hear the crewmember. As the pilot was venting the balloon, he told the crewmember to hold on and that he would get him down safely, and the crewmember acknowledged. Several moments later, about 100 to 150 ft agl, the crewmember fell from the basket. The pilot radioed the rest of the crewmembers to call 911 and landed the balloon about 1/2 mile southwest of the original landing location and 800 ft from where the crewmember fell.

One of the uninjured crewmembers reported that, after the passengers egressed, they were moving the basket toward the cart for about 10 seconds when the balloon lifted off suddenly. When the balloon became too high to hold, all of the crew, excluding one ground crewmember, let go. Another uninjured ground crewmember stated that, "we are taught to let go of the basket if it starts going back up again, which I did. I noticed [a ground crewmember] was still holding onto the bottom rope." He watched as the ground crewmember ascended with the basket.

Additional witnesses reported that they saw several ground crew members, including two additional passengers attempt to get control of the basket after the passengers had disembarked. When it lifted off the ground, everyone let go except for one person. According to one of the witnesses, as the basket rose to chest level, one person grabbed onto the loops at the bottom of the basket and was carried into the air quickly before he fell.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot, age 63, held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for lighter than air. He did not possess nor was he required to possess an FAA medical certificate. The pilot reported that he had accrued 2,569 total hours of flight experience with 8 hours in the accident balloon make and model. In the previous 90 days and 30 days, he had accumulated 14 hours and 10 hours flight experience, respectively. His most recent flight review was conducted on March 3, 2015.

The pilot's most recent ground training, the Great Eastern Balloon Association's (GEBA) 7-hour continuing education seminar called "Spring Training for Balloonists," was completed on March 5, 2016. The previous year, he participated as an instructor at the 2015 GEBA continuing education seminar.

The ground crewmember, age 34, had several years of experience in hot air balloon operations and was hired by the pilot to train, recruit, schedule, and lead ground crews. His background included prior experience with another hot air balloon operator in a similar capacity. On March 5, 2016, he attended the same GEBA training event as the pilot.

The pilot stated that ground crewmembers were "taught that if the balloon lifts their feet off of the ground, to release the balloon" and that the fatally-injured ground crewmember had "taught other crew members same."

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

According to FAA records and the manufacturer, the balloon was manufactured in 2016 and was issued a standard airworthiness certificate on April 15, 2016. The pilot took possession on April 19, 2016 and conducted his first flight in the balloon on May 11, 2016. The balloon had accumulated 8 hours of time as of the date of the accident. The balloon had a volume of 225,000 cubic ft. The rectangular basket was partitioned and had a passenger capacity of up to 16 passengers and was equipped with dual burners. There were 16 rope handles along the bottom perimeter of the basket, 3 on each short side and 5 on each long side.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 2054, the reported weather conditions at Dansville Municipal Airport (DSV), Dansville, New York, located 12 statute miles west of the accident site, included wind from 180° at 3 kts, visibility 10 statute miles, and sky clear. The temperature and dew point were 16° and 7° Celsius, respectively, and the altimeter setting was 30.04 inches of mercury.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Office of the Medical Examiner, Monroe County, New York performed an autopsy on the ground crewmember. The autopsy report noted the cause of death as blunt impact injuries of head, torso, and extremities. The FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing on the ground crewmember. The results were negative for alcohol and common drugs of abuse. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 63, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: None
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Balloon
Restraint Used: None
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: None
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 03/19/2015
Flight Time:  2569 hours (Total, all aircraft), 8 hours (Total, this make and model), 2569 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 14 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 10 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CAMERON
Registration: N69515
Model/Series: A-225 AX-11
Aircraft Category: Balloon
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Balloon
Serial Number: 6778
Landing Gear Type: None
Seats: 0
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 04/15/2016, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1929 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 8 Hours
Engines:
Airframe Total Time: 8 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer:
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series:
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power:
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Does Business As: Balloons Over Letchworth
Operator Designator Code: 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: DSV, 660 ft msl
Observation Time: 2054 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 95°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 16°C / 7°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots, 180°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.04 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Letchworth, NY
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Nunda, NY
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1930 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: None
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 42.587500, -77.948611 (est)

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.

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:  http://www.wsdavisfuneralhome.com




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:  http://www.wgrz.com




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:  http://www.whec.com

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: http://www.twcnews.com

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