Monday, April 15, 2019

Balony Kubicek SPOL SR BB100Z, registered to Eagle Point Endeavors and operated by Wine Country Balloons under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a revenue sightseeing flight, N355WC: Accident occurred April 14, 2019 in St. Helena, Napa County, in California

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

Additional Participating Entity: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Long Beach, California

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: St. Helena, CA
Accident Number: WPR19TA110
Date & Time: 04/14/2019, 1213 PDT
Registration: N355WC
Aircraft: Kubicek BB100
Injuries: 1 Serious, 2 Minor, 14 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Business - Sightseeing 

On April 14, 2019, at 1213 Pacific daylight time, a Balony Kubicek SPOL SR BB100Z hot air balloon, N355WC, sustained minor damage during a landing in St. Helena, California. The commercial pilot and 13 passengers were not injured. Two passengers received minor injuries and one passenger was seriously injured. The balloon was registered to Eagle Point Endeavors and operated by Wine Country Balloons under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a revenue sightseeing flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the local flight, which departed Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport (STS), Santa Rosa, California at 0938.

According to the pilot, his weather planning had showed that prevailing winds were from the northwest about 3,000 ft, which was his planned cruise altitude. Additionally, the owner of the balloon company had independently determined that the wind was traveling towards STS. After delivering a safety briefing to his passengers, the pilot uneventfully launched from his position about 4 nm north of STS. Shortly after departure, the pilot discovered the balloon was moving to the northwest. He climbed and descended to find more favorable winds, but was unsuccessful. The winds then started to push the balloon towards the east into a series of hills. He informed the ground crew that he would be landing in an area about 9 nm southeast of his departure site, but overflew it.

Approximately 55 minutes into the flight, the pilot's two-way radio stopped functioning and he was forced to communicate with the ground crew using his cell phone. Global positioning system data furnished by the operator showed the balloon momentarily head northeast and descend to the surface and then climb to the southeast. The balloon traversed a ridge and the pilot informed a separate crew that he intended to land in St. Helena as he did not want the balloon to reach Napa. As the balloon was hooking backward into a hillside, the pilot rotated the balloon 180° and observed an open area near a vineyard. He advised the passengers to secure themselves and bend their knees, as they had discussed previously. The balloon descended over power lines and a residence, but the winds started blowing the balloon to the north toward the vineyard. The pilot intentionally descended the balloon onto a blackberry bush to land. After it made contact, the balloon got stuck in the bush and the momentum from the balloon canopy pulled the basket forward and caused it to swing like a pendulum. The basket impacted the ground at an angle and came to rest.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Kubicek
Registration: N355WC
Model/Series: BB100 Z
Aircraft Category: Balloon
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Wine County Balloons
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation: , 117 ft msl
Observation Time: 1153 PDT
Distance from Accident Site: 15 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C / 9°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 25000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 160°
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.94 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Minor
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious, 2 Minor, 13 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious, 2 Minor, 14 None
Latitude, Longitude: 38.443333, -122.046667

Three people were injured Sunday morning after a hot-air balloon from Sonoma County was blown off course to a rough landing west of St. Helena, authorities reported.

The landing occurred near the 2900 block of White Sulphur Springs Road, according to the Napa County Sheriff's Office. Deputies were called to the scene along with personnel from Cal Fire and two ambulance crews.

Two of the three injured people were taken by ambulance to Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Ryan Woolworth.

The balloon, which was carrying 13 people, is owned by Wine Country Balloons of Santa Rosa and was scheduled to complete its flight entirely within Sonoma County, but winds blew it east into Napa County instead, Woolworth said. The pilot attempted to land the balloon at Crane Park in St. Helena but was instead blown to White Sulphur Springs Road in the rural Upvalley.

Sunday's balloon incident was the second in the Napa Valley in less than two weeks. On April 1, a balloon registered to Balloons Above the Valley clipped power lines before landing south of Yountville. Three of the 19 passengers were hospitalized with electrical burns.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the Yountville incident.

A hot air balloon took off in Sonoma County and then crashed in Napa County Sunday morning, injuring three people on board, according to the Napa County Sheriff’s Office. It was the second balloon to crash in Napa this month.

The balloon was operated by Wine Country Balloons, a Santa Rosa c
ompany, according to Napa Valley Register. Officials with the balloon company could not be reached Monday.

Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the FAA, said details on the crash, such as where it occurred and where the balloon took off, were not immediately available Monday. Gregor confirmed the FAA is investigating. The report of the crash came in to first responders at 11:35 Sunday morning.

The balloon was unable to land at its intended location in Napa County and was pushed back into the Mayacamas Mountains and “landed hard,” said Sgt. Mike Milat of the Napa County Sheriff’s Office who had no further details.

The crash resulted in three people sustaining minor injuries, said Shannon Criss of Cal Fire. Criss had no further information about the crash.

On April 1, a hot air balloon registered to Napa company Balloons Above the Valley crashed into power lines in Napa Valley, leaving three passengers with electrical burns.

Original article can be found here ➤

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