Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Thunder AX9-140 SII, N970TC: Accident occurred January 19, 2020 in Homestead, Miami-Dade County, Florida

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.

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Miramar, Florida 

Location: Homestead, FL
Accident Number: ERA20LA094
Date & Time: 01/19/2020, 0745 EST
Registration: N970TC
Aircraft: Airborne America AX9-140
Injuries: 2 Serious, 2 Minor, 5 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Aerial Observation - Sightseeing 

On January 19, 2020, about 0745 eastern standard time, an Airborne America AX9-140 (S.2) balloon, N970TC, sustained minor damage when it contacted power lines in Homestead, Florida. The pilot and four passengers were not injured, two passengers received minor injuries, and two passengers were seriously injured. The local sightseeing flight was operated by Sunrise Balloons Miami LLC. under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed about 0700.

According to the pilot, prior to the flight he checked several sites at least five times and called flight service to check the weather. He reported that the weather was clear and cool that morning, the surface winds were 100° at 3 knots, and the winds aloft were in the single digits (6 knots). The pilot and ground crew picked up the passengers and then proceeded to the launch site where they released a Chinese wish lantern to determine the wind direction.

According to the passengers, after the balloon was inflated, they were given a quick safety briefing by a ground crew member which did not contain many details or instructions.

There were two chase vehicles, a truck for the equipment and a passenger van. The pilot communicated with the truck with a handheld radio, though sometimes he had to call several times to get a response. They flew very low almost the entire flight and were so low that they were able to communicate easily with people on the ground who came out of their homes to see the balloon go by.

According to the pilot, after flying for about 50 minutes, he began looking for an appropriate field to land. While passing over an intersection, he noticed power lines ahead. He believed that he had more than adequate altitude for clearance and continued his level flight. As he was about to cross overhead the power lines, he felt a strong down draft, which began to push the balloon into a rapid descent. He then applied maximum continuous burner heat, to stop the abrupt descent; however, the balloon then contacted the power lines. The pilot initiated the emergency procedures of deflating the envelope, while simultaneously shutting off the propane tank.

Accordingly to the passengers, the balloon was approaching a field low and fast when it struck power lines with the lower part of the envelope and the flying wires that hold the basket to the canopy. The balloon came to rest with the envelope draped over the power lines with the basket in a small group of trees directly below the lines, 10 to 12 ft above the ground. Electrical arcing occurred and several passengers sustained burns.

The balloon envelope and basket were manufactured in 1989. The balloon was powered by two propane burners and the partitioned basket had a capacity of 9 occupants.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for lighter-than-air balloon. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on June 1, 2017. He reported 881 total hours of flight experience.

The 0756 recorded weather at Homestead Air Reserve Base (HST), Homestead, Florida, located about 8 nautical miles southeast of the accident site, included wind from 110° at 3 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear skies, temperature 19°C, dew point 16°C, and altimeter setting of 30.12 inches of mercury.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Airborne America
Registration: N970TC
Model/Series: AX9-140 2
Aircraft Category: Balloon
Amateur Built: No
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: HST, 6 ft msl
Observation Time: 0756 EST
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / 16°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots / , 110°
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.12 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Homestead, FL (None)
Destination: Homestead, FL (None)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Minor
Passenger Injuries: 2 Serious, 2 Minor, 4 None
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Serious, 2 Minor, 5 None
Latitude, Longitude: 25.541667, -80.535833 (est)

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Florida (WSVN) - Rescue crews took one person to the hospital following a hot air balloon crash in Southwest Miami-Dade.

According to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, a hot air balloon got tangled in power lines near Southwest 240th Street and Southwest 212th Avenue, just before 7:45 a.m., Sunday.

Power went out for homes in the area temporarily as a result, officials said, but it has since been restored.

Paramedics transported the victim to an area hospital in unknown condition.

Story and video ➤ https://wsvn.com

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