NTSB Identification: ERA16LA284
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 06, 2016 in Northwood, NH
Aircraft: BALLOON WORKS FIREFLY8, registration: N317W
Injuries: 1 Serious, 5 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 August 6, 2016, at 1850 eastern daylight time, a Balloon Works Firefly 8, N317W, experienced a hard landing in Northwood, New Hampshire. One passenger was seriously injured; the commercial pilot and four other passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local sightseeing flight, which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight departed from Drake Field, Pittsfield, New Hampshire, about 1730.
The flight was participating in the Suncook Valley Rotary Club annual balloon rally, held in Pittsfield, New Hampshire. According to the pilot, the wind was discussed during a weather briefing for the event as being 8 to 10 knots and forecasted to reduce to less than 5 knots before increasing again. He indicated that after he inflated the balloon envelope, "it was not rocking which means it was not excessively windy" so he boarded the passengers and departed. The flight climbed to an altitude between 1,200 and 1,500 feet, and was uneventful. The pilot selected a 5-acre field for landing about 6 miles south of Pittsfield. The landing was "a bit rough," and the basket momentarily tipped over before righting itself, then dragged for some distance before coming to a stop at the edge of the field. During the landing, one passenger fell inside the basket, fracturing his pelvis and leg.
According to a representative from the Suncook Rotary Club, prior to the scheduled balloon launch time of 1730, several pilot balloons (pibals) were released to assess the wind conditions, which were determined to be "changeable." He indicated that thunderstorms were moving through the Laconia area (about 15 miles north of Pittsfield) at the scheduled launch time. There were 16 other pilots/balloons scheduled to participate in the event; none of them chose to launch that evening.
The 1851 automated weather observation at Concord Municipal Airport (CON), Concord, New Hampshire, located about 12 miles west of the accident site, included wind from 340 degrees at 15 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, temperature 28 degrees C, and dew point 16 degrees C.