Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Head Balloons AX8-88, N45303: Accident occurred August 03, 2020 in Jackson Hole, Teton County, Wyoming

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Denver, Colorado

https://registry.faa.gov/N45303


NTSB Identification: WPR20CA262
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Aircraft: Head AX8 88, registration: N45303


NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Hot air balloon crashed after experiencing 180° wind shift and strong downdraft causing rapid descent.

Date: 03-AUG-20
Time: 14:10:00Z
Regis#: N45303
Aircraft Make: HEAD BALLOONS
Aircraft Model: AX8 88
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: UNKNOWN
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: SIGHTSEEING
Flight Phase: EN ROUTE (ENR)
City: JACKSON HOLE
State: WYOMING

Eurocopter EC 130B4, N55GJ: Fatal accident occurred August 03, 2020 in Knoxville, Tennessee

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Nashville, Tennessee
BEA; Le Bourget, France
Airbus Helicopters Inc; Grand Prairie, Texas
Safran Helicopter Engines; Grand Prairie, Texas

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

https://registry.faa.gov/N55GJ

Location: Knoxville, TN
Accident Number: ERA20LA273
Date & Time: 08/03/2020, 1941 EDT
Registration: N55GJ
Aircraft: Eurocopter EC130
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On August 3, 2020, at 1941 eastern daylight time, a Eurocopter EC130-B4 helicopter, N55GJ, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident in Knoxville, Tennessee. One passenger was fatally injured, and the pilot and two additional passengers were not injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

After refueling the helicopter, the pilot and his passengers departed McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS), Knoxville, Tennessee, about 1826 for a flight in the local area. About 1940 the pilot made a right circling approach over the Tennessee River toward a landing site near the river's edge on his property. He reported that he, "was descending with low power and a 25° angle of descent; ever slowing to come to a hover at low speed over the water." He stated that he added power to stop the descent and was planning to hover to the landing site at a height about 75 feet above the water. He stated that when he added power, the helicopter "started to settle" and he "pulled max power to stop the settling;" however, the helicopter continued to descend into the water. A passenger stated that when the helicopter descended toward the water in a level attitude, the left "skid hit and then rotor hit" and the helicopter was "torqued into the water on the left side." The pilot and two of the passengers were able to egress the helicopter before it sank.

Examination of the accident site by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the helicopter came to rest on the bottom of the Tennessee River about 435 ft and 149° from the landing site on the pilot's property. The helicopter's fenestron was recovered floating nearby.
The helicopter was recovered from the river mostly intact. Examination of the wreckage revealed a large hole in the left side windshield; the left door window broken out; damage to all rotor blades consistent with water impact; and two of the four suspension bars fractured midspan. The tailboom remained attached to the fuselage, and the fenestron separated from the tailboom just aft of the ring frame.

The helicopter was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Eurocopter
Registration: N55GJ
Model/Series: EC130 B4
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
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: TYS, 979 ft msl
Observation Time: 1953 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 27°C / 20°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 4000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots / , 80°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 25000 ft agl
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.91 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Knoxville, TN (TYS)
Destination: Knoxville, TN

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 3 None
Latitude, Longitude: 35.945278, -83.956389 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.


Brothers Joe Clayton, left, and Jim Clayton, right, as boys.

Brothers Joe Clayton and Jim Clayton

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Millionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Jim Clayton, his brother and business partner Joe Clayton, a Clayton grandson and a family friend were onboard the helicopter that crashed Monday night into Fort Loudoun Lake.

Authorities say Jim Clayton, who also was a pilot, grandson Flynt Griffin along with developer and arts supporter Jay McBride were able to swim to help after the Eurocopter EC 130B4 went down about 7:40 p.m. Monday night.

Clayton's brother and longtime business partner Joe Clayton died in the crash. The survivors didn't require medical attention.

Authorities haven't said who was flying the helicopter, registered to CFA Holdings Inc at a Knoxville address that has ties to Clayton interests. Clayton had a helipad along the lake near his hillside Lake View Drive home that he used for easy access.

“I am devastated and completely heartbroken by the loss of my wonderful brother, Joe,” Jim Clayton said in a statement released Tuesday. “Joe and I were as close as two brothers can be, and, as only siblings, we have supported each other since growing up together on a farm in West Tennessee and as business partners for decades. My thoughts and concerns are totally for Joe’s family right now.”

Clayton, 86, has been a supporter of the arts in East Tennessee for decades. He and his family foundation also are planning a $100 million science museum that will be built east of downtown Knoxville on the site of the current headquarters of the Knoxville Police Department.

'WE WERE ALWAYS VERY CLOSE'


Jim and Joe Clayton, younger by 21 months, grew up the sons of sharecroppers in McNairy County, Tennessee. It was a hardscrabble life that served as a great motivator for the boys to do better, as Jim Clayton would write later in his book, "First A Dream".

Jim Clayton came to Knoxville in the 1950s to get an engineering degree from the University of Tennessee. He urged his younger brother to join him and go to business school, Joe Clayton would later recall in a 2012 interview with Hallerin Hill on "Anything Is Possible".

"We were always very close," Joe Clayton said.

Big brother was the more outgoing of the two, Joe Clayton said.

After Jim got into the car sales business in Knoxville, Joe joined him. Their lots were a familiar site to locals on Clinton Highway. Joe Clayton enjoyed the car business so much he didn't finish school.

“I liked selling cars, really enjoyed it. Still do,” Joe Clayton told Hill.

An amateur musician as well as an entrepreneur, Jim Clayton advertised the car lots on Knoxville area television while strumming a guitar.

Joe Clayton eventually took over the car dealership business. It gained a folksy, family-friendly reputation

"We take pride in going the extra mile for our customers. Since we know that shopping for a used car can be frustrating, we try to make it as easy as possible. Give us a try and find out," a statement attributed to Joe Clayton reads on the Clayton Used Cars website.

From cars, the brothers expanded in the mid 1960s into mobile homes, what today is referred to as manufactured housing.

By the early 1980s, the brothers split their interests, with Joe focusing on cars and Jim focusing on Clayton Homes.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without his (Jim’s) assistance. Hope he feels the same way," Joe Clayton said.

PILOT, BANKER, PHILANTHROPIST


Manufactured housing made millions for Jim Clayton and his family. He later went into banking.

Clayton Homes is run today by his son, Kevin Clayton. In the early 2000s, billionaire investor Warren Buffett folded the company into his family of holdings under the Berkshire Hathaway name. Its headquarters are in Maryville.

Through the decades, Jim Clayton has given generously to support the arts. He was a major benefactor in construction of the Knoxville Music of Art on World's Fair Park.

He's a supporter of the Knoxville Symphony.

He's also a longtime pilot, having flown fixed wing aircraft for many decades as well as helicopters.

One of Jim Clayton's latest projects is a Clayton Family science museum, which has a planned budget of $100 million as well as a $50 million endowment.

Clayton told WBIR in 2018 he'd traveled the globe looking at established museums to get inspiration for his project. He envisioned it as a place that families from across the region could attend. He wants the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to play a part, lending their expertise.

Flynt Griffin, 40, is involved in family interests, including the Clayton Family Foundation, for which he's listed as a director, records show. He has a Knoxville home, records show.

Jay McBride, 65, has been a developer and is an active arts supporter in Knoxville.

He's served on the board of the art museum and is vice president for development on the Knoxville Symphony board of directors. He's married to artist Marga McBride and they live in West Knoxville.

https://www.wbir.com

Aeronca 7AC, N85222: Incident occurred August 03, 2020 in West Unity, Williams County, Ohio

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Columbus, Ohio

Aircraft crashed during landing due to a gust of wind ending up on its nose and wing.

https://registry.faa.gov/N85222

Date: 03-AUG-20
Time: 17:00:00Z
Regis#: N85222
Aircraft Make: AERONCA
Aircraft Model: 7AC
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91
City: WEST UNITY
State: OHIO


West Unity – The Defiance Post is investigating a plane crash that occurred in a bean field near County Road 19.50 and County Road I.50 in Brady Township, Williams County. The crash happened on August 3rd around 1:00 PM and involved a Aeronca 7AC.

The plane was traveling westbound and attempting to land at a private landing strip. The plane tires caught the bean field prior to reaching the landing strip. This pulled the front of the plane down, causing the plane to strike the field and overturned as it came to rest.

The pilot of the plane, Rodney J. Britenriker, age 77, of West Unity, Ohio was treated at the scene by Williams County EMS.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol was assisted on scene by the Williams County Sheriff’s Office, Williams County EMS, and Brady Township Fire and Rescue.

https://thevillagereporter.com

Beech A36, N67CD: Incident occurred August 03, 2020 and Accident occurred June 29, 2018

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Des Moines, Iowa

August 03, 2020: Aircraft landed gear up.

Date: 03-AUG-20
Time: 18:30:00Z
Regis#: N67CD
Aircraft Make: BEECH
Aircraft Model: 36
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91
City: SIOUX CITY
State: IOWA


June 29, 2018

View of damage to spar carry-through.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Des Moines, Iowa

Aviation Accident Final 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/N67CD

Location: Spencer, IA
Accident Number:GAA18CA412 
Date & Time: 06/29/2018, 1630 CDT
Registration: N67CD
Aircraft: Beech A36
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Landing gear not configured
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

Analysis

According to the pilot in the retractable-landing gear-equipped airplane, he did not extend the landing gear before landing. He reported that he became distracted while communicating with other aircraft and controlling the airplane in the gusting wind conditions. Further, he did not realize that what he perceived as the stall warning horn was actually the landing gear unsafe warning horn. He added that the accident could have been prevented by repeating his GUMPFS checklist on final and checking to ensure that the three green landing gear safe lights were illuminated.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the lower fuselage bulkheads and spar carry-through.

The pilot reported that there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: 
The pilot's failure to extend the landing gear before landing. Contributing to the accident were the pilot's failure to use the Before Landing checklist due to being distracted while communicating with other aircraft and controlling the airplane in the gusting wind conditions.

Findings

Aircraft
Landing gear selector - Not used/operated (Cause)

Personnel issues
Use of equip/system - Pilot (Cause)
Use of checklist - Pilot (Factor)
Attention - Pilot (Factor)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Landing-flare/touchdown
Landing gear not configured (Defining event)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 63, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/21/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 10/03/2017
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 387.3 hours (Total, all aircraft), 144.1 hours (Total, this make and model), 237.3 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 35.1 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 10.1 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Beech
Registration: N67CD
Model/Series: A36
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1990
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Utility
Serial Number: E-2554
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 10/03/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3286 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3300.8 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Continental
ELT: C91 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO-550-B
Registered Owner: Reeder Airlines LLC
Rated Power:300 hp
Operator: Reeder Airlines LLC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KMDS, 1716 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 97 Nautical Miles
Observation Time:
Direction from Accident Site: 303°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 20 knots / 28 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 180°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 
Temperature/Dew Point:
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: Sioux City, IA (SUX)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Spencer, IA (SPW)
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 1600 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class E

Airport Information

Airport: SPENCER MUNI (SPW)
Runway Surface Type: Concrete
Airport Elevation:1339 ft 
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used:18 
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5100 ft / 75 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop; Traffic Pattern

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion:None 
Total Injuries:2 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 43.165556, -95.202778 (est)

Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub, N1049P: Accident occurred July 28, 2020 and Incident occurred September 20, 2012

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Anchorage, Alaska

https://registry.faa.gov/N1049P

NTSB Identification: ANC20CA075
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, July 28, 2020 in Chisana, AK
Aircraft: Piper PA18, registration: N1049P


NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Aircraft on landing experienced a gust of wind and ran off the runway.

Date: July 28, 2020
Time: 20:19:00Z
Regis#: N1049P
Aircraft Make: Piper
Aircraft Model: PA18
Event Type: Accident
Highest Injury: None
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: Substantial 
Activity: Personal
Flight Phase: Landing
Operation: 91
City: Chisana
State: Alaska

September 20, 2012:  Aircraft on landing struck the propeller, near Rex Trail, Alaska.

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fairbanks, Alaska

Date: September 20, 2012
Time: 23:00
Regis#: N1049P
Aircraft Make: Piper
Aircraft Model: PA18
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: Unknown
Activity: Personal
Flight Phase: Landing
Operation: 91
City: Fairbanks
State: Alaska

Cameron A315, N12171: Accident occurred August 03, 2020 in Jackson Hole, Teton County, Wyoming

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Denver, Colorado

Wyoming Balloon Company

https://registry.faa.gov/N12171

NTSB Identification: WPR20CA267
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 3, 2020 in Jackson, WY
Aircraft: Cameron A 315, registration: N12171


NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Hot air balloon crashed after experiencing 180° wind shift and strong downdraft causing rapid descent.

Date: 03-AUG-20
Time: 14:10:00Z
Regis#: N12171
Aircraft Make: CAMERON BALLOONS
Aircraft Model: A315
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: SERIOUS
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: SIGHTSEEING
Flight Phase: EN ROUTE (ENR)
City: JACKSON HOLE
State: WYOMING



Hours after three of his hot air balloons crashed Monday on the West Bank, an accident that sent 11 people to hospitals, Wyoming Balloon Company owner Andrew Breffeilh said he was sorry it happened.

“I just want to express my sorrow and regret that anybody was hurt,” Breffeilh said.

Breffeilh is grappling with what happened —many of his clients are still recovering physically and mentally after trips to the hospital that were far from normal because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some recalled trying to land a rogue hot air balloon after their pilot was thrown from the basket. Others said they can’t believe they made it out alive and refunds and apologies, if received, might not be enough.

“We could have died,” said Alexis Krayevsky, 18. “It was so scary.”

Breffeilh, who piloted one of the balloons Monday, said he’d never had any passengers injured during his 31 years of owning the company.

“It’s been a point of pride for me,” he told the News&Guide. “We really care about our passengers enough to give up a lot of days and just not allow ourselves to get them into this kind of situation. And somehow or another, we did.”

Breffeilh said it was a severe downdraft that drove the balloons into a field on the Snake River Ranch with more than 30 people on board. Sixteen passengers were in the two larger balloons, Breffeilh said, and two in a smaller balloon. Ten people received care at St. John’s Health, and one person was flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center with a head injury.

Three people admitted Monday to St. John’s were released Tuesday. Another seven treated at the hospital were released Monday. The News&Guide was unable to get the name of the woman flown to EIRMC, and without a name could not verify her condition with hospital staff.

Passengers called the crash horrifying.

“It was a pretty traumatic experience,” said Clinton Philips, a passenger in the balloon Breffeilh piloted. “My girls are pretty scratched up, and my son might have a concussion, and we think my wife’s ribs are broken.”

The cause of the accident is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration.

“We are gathering as much information as possible right now,” NTSB spokesperson Terry Williams told the News&Guide. Weather will be part of the investigation, but Williams said it’s too early to say whether it was a factor.

Blown out of the sky

Breffeilh, though, blamed the weather.

“It wasn’t cloudy when we went out,” he said.

But inclement weather developed as he and his crew were in the field setting up the balloons.

“It was just kind of building over on the backside of the Tetons,” he said. “It looked like it was going to go past us like it often does.”

Alexis Krayevsky’s 12-year-old brother, Robert, was getting ready to board one of the balloons with his family when he started to get concerned about the darkening sky.

“Before we got on I was saying there were dark clouds and it was windy,” Robert said after the crash. “But no one was listening. I don’t know why they didn’t cancel it.”

Breffeilh said his team reads the sky every day before launching their balloons.

“Whatever it is, it can’t do anything in the next hour,” Breffeilh remembered thinking to himself when he saw the clouds. “Unfortunately, it did something in an hour and five minutes. I’ve never seen that happen before.”

After taking off, Breffeilh said, he landed his balloon safely once but the landing spot wasn’t ideal. It was in a glade, and wet, so he took off again to find a drier spot to touch down.

As Breffeilh looked for that spot he said a “huge gust” of wind hit all three balloons and turned them around. Then, he said, “about the most severe downdraft I’ve ever seen in 50 years of flying” hit the balloons and started pushing them toward the ground.

“It was invisible, we didn’t see it coming,” Breffeilh said. “We were headed for a nice fast landing in the open field, but it just hit us like a wall.”

The pilot said he was applying all the power he had to soften the landing, but his basket was still dragged about 300 feet along the ground until it landed in a ditch, laying the balloon across a barbed wire fence.

“We were desperately trying not to fall out,” passenger Clinton Phillips said. “It was lifting us up and slamming us back down again.”

Breffeilh’s balloon was the northernmost of the three. The passenger basket of the southernmost balloon appeared to have been dragged through a wire fence and then a few hundred more feet until it stopped and turned on its side in a glade.

“We were hit the hardest,” recalled Robert, the matter-of-fact middle schooler. “We broke the whole fence.”

Before that basket stopped its pilot was tossed out, and the balloon, full of passengers but without a captain, bounced back into the air.

“He was yelling to pull the red ropes,” Robert said. “Then we tipped over and had to get out because of possible fire. I got out and people were lying on the ground hurt.”

His mom, Yanina, said that after surviving the crash and spending most of the day in the hospital she wasn’t able to sleep Monday night.

“My husband got pretty banged up,” she told the News&Guide on Tuesday. “He has a broken nose, broken rib and a torn shoulder. I have a twisted ankle. But we are alive, thank God.”

Yanina Krayevsky said she thinks there should be safety briefings before each flight and possibly a backup pilot on each balloon.

“We might consider legal action at this point,” she said. “It’s negligence on their part. They should have had another pilot. I understand this rarely happens, but there should be safety precautions.”

Breffeilh hesitated calling what happened a crash, noting that high speed landings are often a little bumpy.

“It doesn’t have brakes, and it doesn’t have landing gear. It bounces and drags,” he said. “That’s what it does, so people are going to call everything a crash.”

But he and his company are cooperating with investigators.

“It’s going to be investigated as an accident because people got hurt,” Breffeilh said, “and I respect that. And I respect the process.”

The company’s process

Breffeilh said he often cancels balloon trips because of weather.

“We cancel most days,” he said. “We may be open for 120 or 130 days in a year, but between spring weather and fall weather, we may make most of our living in three weeks in July, maybe three or four weeks of August.”

Breffeilh said he and his pilots check weather reports, satellites and radar “to make sure nothing’s trying to swing up behind us.

“Everything we can use to help us not be surprised.”

Breffeilh provided the News&Guide with a report he looked at Monday morning, and said “it doesn’t show anything about an impending storm.”

“This was another clear weather day, high pressure and everything, and this freak storm wasn’t in the forecast,” he said.

Mountain Weather meteorologist Jim Woodmencey took a look at the same report and said “there’s nothing there that sticks out.”

“Variable winds at 8 o’clock at 4 knots? That’s probably ideal,” he said.

Woodmencey said that what happened meteorologically “wasn’t a microburst, but it was a downdraft out of the base of clouds” — and it would have been difficult to predict.

“It wasn’t one of those crystal clear mornings, so there was something going on,” the meteorologist said, “but I think it’s just one of those things that was happening on a relatively small scale meteorologically and would have been difficult for, say, an aviation forecast to pick up or even a [National Weather Service] general forecast.”

Breffeilh said any one of his pilots can cancel a flight if they are doubtful about conditiions. The owner has been flying for over three decades, and said his staff has a collective century of experience in balloons. But, on Monday, he said, nobody decided to pull the plug.

“Maybe it was a busy day, maybe we had a lot of people, we were busy trying to put it all together and get it going,” he said, “but nobody said no.”

He described his team of pilots as risk averse, saying they don’t “fly the percentages.” Asked whether he felt like he took a risk Monday, Breffeilh did not answer directly.

“After 31 years, I don’t fly for the money, I fly for the love of it,” he said. “And the love of it does not include hurting anybody.”

Crashing into the pandemic

People were hurt Monday, however.

Breffeilh said a passenger on the smallest balloon broke his ankle. St. John’s spokeswoman Karen Connelly said the 10 people the valley hospital treated primarily had minor lacerations and orthopedic injuries — wrists, shoulders, ankles and the like.

It was a busy morning at the hospital. Staff were already caring for two other life-threatening emergencies around the same time patients from the balloon incidents began arriving around 10 a.m. That led St. John’s to boost its staffing from one emergency room doctor and the usual call schedule to four emergency doctors, two trauma surgeons, three orthopedic surgeons, and nurses and technologists from other hospital areas and clinics.

“It was all hands on deck,” Connelly said in a text.

The hospital also had to implement new protocols for COVID-19 that included temperature checks, masks and keeping family members from being near their loved ones in the hospital.

“We were just working really hard to get information to loved ones who weren’t able to be right there next to their family member,” Connelly said.

Breffeilh said the pandemic has made him “uncomfortable.”

He said he’s implemented some new policies to adapt, like having people meet his staff in their car and follow them to the launch site, but that he generally asks clients “what they want to do.”

Masks aren’t always worn in the tight passenger baskets on the balloon.

“They’re all looking out different directions and at different things on the ground and in the air, so they’re not facing each other as much,” he said, comparing his outfit to a rafting firm: “It’s an awkward situation, because we’re just like float trips. We can’t change the vehicle.”

The Teton County Health Department declined to answer the News&Guide’s question about whether anyone on the balloons had tested positive for COVID-19.

St. John’s Health wouldn’t say if any of the passengers tested positive.

“I can’t provide COVID status of individual patients due to privacy laws,” Connelly said Tuesday. “We treat everyone who comes into our facilities as if they are COVID positive in order to keep the staff and patients safe.”

What’s up from here?

What the rest of the summer will look like for the Wyoming Balloon Company is up in the air.

The FAA spokesman for the northwestern region, Allen Kenizter, said, “there are no prohibitions against this company from continuing to operate.”

Breffeilh said he was able to gather his balloons Monday, canceled flights for Tuesday, and was trying to figure out how to handle the rest of the summer.

“I don’t know what follows,” he said. “We’re just gonna have to do a safety review and sit down and figure it out. I’m not trying to make any hasty decisions.”

Breffeilh said he hadn’t gotten around to thinking about if he’d refund the customers who crashed Monday: “I’m still trying to find out who is injured so I can contact families and offer my condolences.

“I don’t know how I feel about the rest of the season to be honest with you,” he said. “I have a responsibility to my pilots and my employees; they’re looking to me for jobs. But I’m very conflicted emotionally about this whole thing. I’m just shaken to the bones.

“This is not what I’m in it for,” Breffeilh said.

https://www.jhnewsandguide.com

Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub, N82566: Accident occurred August 04, 2020 in Wasilla, Alaska

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Anchorage, Alaska

https://registry.faa.gov/N82566


NTSB Identification: ANC20CA076
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 4, 2020 in Wasilla, AK
Aircraft: Piper PA18, registration: N82566


NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Aircraft departing and wind gust forced into trees.

Date: 04-AUG-20
Time: 23:30:00Z
Regis#: N82566
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA18
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: SUBSTANTIAL
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)
Operation: 91
City: WASILLA
State: ALASKA

AutoGyro Cavalon, N635BC: Accident occurred August 04, 2020 in Upper Lake, Lake County, California

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Sacramento, California

https://registry.faa.gov/N635BC


NTSB Identification: WPR20CA253
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 4, 2020 in Upper Lake, CA
Aircraft: CLON Cavalon, registration: N635BC

NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Rotorcraft crashed under unknown circumstances.

Date: 04-AUG-20
Time: 16:17:00Z
Regis#: N635BC
Aircraft Make: AUTOGYRO
Aircraft Model: CAVALON
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: SERIOUS
Aircraft Missing: No    
Damage: SUBSTANTIAL
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Operation: 91
City: UPPER LAKE
State: CALIFORNIA

Czech Sport Aircraft Sportcruiser, N697SC: Incidents occurred August 04, 2020 and July 26, 2017

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

August 04, 2020: Aircraft departed and experienced engine problems and landed in a field.

Certus Aircraft Inc

https://registry.faa.gov/N697SC

Date: 04-AUG-20
Time: 23:27:00Z
Regis#: N697SC
Aircraft Make: CZECH SPORT AIRCRAFT
Aircraft Model: SPORTCRUISER
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)
Operation: 91
City: CENTRALIA
State: ILLINOIS

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona

July 26, 2017: Aircraft on landing, propeller struck the runway.

Date: 26-JUL-17
Time: 14:00:00Z
Regis#: N697SC
Aircraft Make: CZECH
Aircraft Model: SPORTCRUISER
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Activity: INSTRUCTION
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: GLENDALE
State: ARIZONA

Grob G-102 Club Astir IIIB, N3981A: Accident occurred July 30, 2020 at Mid-Way Regional Airport (KJWY), Midlothian, Ellis County, Texas

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; North Texas

https://registry.faa.gov/N3981A


NTSB Identification: CEN20CA324
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, July 30, 2020 in Midlothian, TX
Aircraft: Grob G102, registration: N3981A

NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Aircraft bounced on landing damaging tail, rudder and nose.

Date: 30-JUL-20
Time: 19:30:00Z
Regis#: N3981A
Aircraft Make: GROB
Aircraft Model: G102
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: MINOR
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: SUBSTANTIAL
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91
City: MIDLOTHIAN
State: TEXAS

Lindstrand 310A, N971LB: Accident occurred August 03, 2020 in Jackson Hole, Teton County, Wyoming

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Denver, Colorado

Wyoming Balloon Company

https://registry.faa.gov/N971LB



NTSB Identification: WPR20CA263
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Aircraft: Lindstrand 310A, registration: N971LB


NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Hot air balloon crashed after experiencing 180° wind shift and strong downdraft causing rapid descent.

Date: 03-AUG-20
Time: 14:10:00Z
Regis#: N971LB
Aircraft Make: LINDSTRAND
Aircraft Model: 310A
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: UNKNOWN
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: SIGHTSEEING
Flight Phase: EN ROUTE (ENR)
City: JACKSON HOLE
State: WYOMING



JACKSON – Three hot air balloons carrying dozens of people lost control Monday morning and came to a crashing halt in a field near Teton Village.

The multi-balloon incident is under investigation by federal authorities.

More than 16 passengers were hurt. Some of them described the incident as “terrifying.”

“We were descending so fast,” Clinton Phillips told the Jackson Hole Daily. “It was lifting us up and slamming us back down again. We were desperately trying not to fall out.”

Phillips said the balloon he was in was carrying about 20 people, including him, his wife, Jade, and their three children.

The scenic early morning Wyoming Balloon Company flight was nearing its end when the wind shifted and things went awry, Phillips said.

“I couldn’t believe how beautiful everything was,” Phillips said, “and then we were in hell a few minutes later. It was crazy.”

The Teton County Sheriff’s Office got the emergency call at 8:13 a.m. and rushed to the scene, where all three balloons and passengers were spread out, with varying injuries. One passenger was rushed by helicopter to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, Sheriff Matt Carr said. The Sheriff’s Office could not provide that patient’s name, so the Jackson Hole Daily was not able to verify the person’s condition with EIRMC before press time.

Emergency services also transported some patients, and others transported themselves, to St. John’s Health. Chief Communications Officer Karen Connelly said the valley hospital received 10 patients, three of whom were admitted, and seven of whom were treated and released later in the day. The three admitted patients were in “good condition,” she said. The majority of injuries the hospital saw were orthopedic – wrist, shoulders, ankles and the like.

“It was a pretty traumatic experience,” Phillips said. “My girls are pretty scratched up, and my son might have a concussion, and we think my wife’s ribs are broken.”

The balloons crashed just west of Highway 390 near Propane Road, the Teton County Sheriff’s Office said. They didn’t collide, despite some early witness reports. They all crashed separately, but in the same field.

Another balloon, carrying 12-year-old Robert Krayevski and his family, skidded across a field and crashed into a fence.

“Our captain fell off while we were in it,” Krayevski told the Daily. “We bounced and went back up in the air by ourselves. The captain was yelling to pull the red ropes. We tipped over, and we had to get out because of possible fire. I got out, and people were laying on the ground hurt.”

Jackson Hole Fire/EMS, Grand Teton National Park law enforcement and Air Idaho “all assisted in triaging and transporting multiple victims to area hospitals for treatment,” Sgt. Clay Platt said.

The cause of the accident is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.

“We are gathering as much information as possible right now,” NTSB spokesperson Terry Williams said.

He said weather will be part of the investigation, but it’s too early to say for sure whether it was a factor.

FAA spokesperson for the northwestern region Allen Kenizter said the balloons crashed under “unknown circumstances.”

“There are no prohibitions against this company from continuing to operate,” Kenizter said.

https://www.wyomingnews.com