Thursday, March 29, 2018

Head Balloons AX7 77B, N30721: Accident occurred June 08, 2017 in Chatsworth, Livingston County, Illinois

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Springfield, Illinois

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/N30721

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Factual Report

Location: Chatsworth, IL
Accident Number: CEN17LA223
Date & Time: 06/08/2017, 1830 CDT
Registration: N30721
Aircraft: HEAD BALLOONS INC AX7 77B
Aircraft Damage: Minor
Defining Event: Miscellaneous/other
Injuries: 1 Serious, 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On June 8, 2017, about 1630 central daylight time, a Head Balloons AX 77B balloon, N30721, encountered a wind gust while preparing for takeoff that threw the balloon occupants to the floor of the basket. The pilot and one passenger received minor injuries and one passenger received serious injuries. The balloon received minor damage to the basket. The balloon was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not on a flight plan. The flight was originating from Chatsworth, Illinois when the accident occurred.

The pilot reported that before the flight, he sent a small helium balloon up which indicated favorable conditions for flight. He proceeded to layout and cold inflate the balloon. He then performed a preflight briefing with the passengers and hot air inflated the balloon. He stated that the winds were still light, and after completion of the preflight checklist the passengers boarded the basket. As he started to add more heat to the balloon, he heard people begin yelling and he stopped burning to see what was going on. He saw the balloon beside him was airborne and swinging around beside its chase truck. The accident pilot's balloon which was still cold suddenly became airborne and swung very rapidly around the side of his chase van and back in the opposite direction it was laid out in. He looked down and realized spectators had moved down beside his van and were now directly below the balloon. He immediately started burning to add heat to the balloon so it would rise so that it would not come down on the spectators. The balloon now swung out away from the spectators and hit the ground and drug for a short distance before becoming airborne again. After becoming airborne again, the balloon began swinging on its tie off line and was hitting the ground again. When it hit the ground, the tie off became uncoupled. When the basket hit the ground again, the pilot was throw-out of the basket and was hanging by his heels and from a rope with the balloon airborne. When the basket hit the ground the next time, the pilot was thrown from the basket and the balloon having lost his weight flew on with the two passengers in the basket. It landed approximately two blocks east of the launch field where the two passengers jumped from the basket. After losing their weight the balloon flew on for about one fourth of a mile and came to rest in a soy bean field.

Weather reports for the Pontiac Municipal Airport, Pontiac, Illinois, about 20 miles northwest of the accident site recorded the wind speed and direction as 5 knots from 220 degrees about the time of the accident.

Videos taken by a ground observer showed the wind condition prior to and during the event. In one video, there are several inflated balloons seen and no indication of strong winds. Another video showed several balloons being blown about by high wind. A predominately blue balloon is seen colliding with the accident balloon with its basket scraping the accident balloon's envelope. The blue balloon then clears the accident balloon and lifts off. The accident balloon's burner can be seen burning in an apparent attempt to climb. The balloon climbs a few feet with winds causing the balloon to reverse course several times. The balloon then strikes the ground several times. After one impact an occupant can bee seen hanging from the side of the basket. During the next impact the hanging occupant can be seen to fall to the ground and the balloon then flies off. During the entire video the wind is pushing the balloon in different directions with the envelope shape distorting from the wind. The balloon flies off past a building and then is seen descending behind the building. The witness reported that the wind was calm just prior to the gusts that could be seen in the accident video. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 64, 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:
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 857 hours (Total, all aircraft), 352 hours (Total, this make and model) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: HEAD BALLOONS INC
Registration: N30721
Model/Series: AX7 77B NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Balloon
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Balloon
Serial Number: 279
Landing Gear Type: None
Seats: 0
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 01/21/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.:  1400 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 0
Airframe Total Time: 362.6 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer:
ELT:
Engine Model/Series:
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan


Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PNT
Observation Time: 2335 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 20 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 305°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 4°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots, 220°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.87 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration:  No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Chatsworth, IL
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination:
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1830 CDT
Type of Airspace:  Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Minor
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious, 2 Minor
Latitude, Longitude:  40.753611, -88.291944

NTSB Identification: CEN17LA223
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, June 08, 2017 in Chatsworth, IL
Aircraft: HEAD BALLOONS INC AX7 77B, registration: N30721
Injuries: 1 Serious, 2 Minor.

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 8, 2017, about 1630 central daylight time, a Head Balloons AX 77B balloon, N30721, encountered a wind gust while preparing for takeoff that threw the balloon occupants to the floor of the basket. The pilot and one passenger received minor injuries and one passenger received serious injuries. The balloon received minor damage to the basket. The balloon was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not on a flight plan. The flight was originating from Chatsworth, Illinois when the accident occurred.

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