Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Adams Balloons A55S, N866RA: Accident occurred April 10, 2022 in Safford, Graham County, Arizona

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; Scottsdale, Arizona

Location: Safford, Arizona 
Accident Number: WPR22LA152
Date and Time: April 10, 2022, 07:03 Local
Registration: N866RA
A55S Injuries: 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On April 10, 2022, about 0703 mountain standard time, an Adams Balloons LLC A55S, N866RA, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident in Safford, Arizona. The commercial pilot was not injured, and the two passengers sustained minor injuries. The balloon was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot reported that during climb to the north, the sound and power produced by the burners was abnormal. She remarked that the burners seemed to produce low pressure and descended to the southeast. During descent, she attempted to troubleshoot the low-pressure anomaly by alternating propane tanks and elected to use the left rear and forward right propane tanks which seemed to provide better burner pressure. She decided to land as soon as possible and was able to maintain a level flight path about 1,100 ft above ground level, but the burner pressure seemingly decreased.

During approach to her desired landing site, she spotted powerlines that intersected the approach path and applied a full burn. The balloon climbed over the wires, and she chose to rapidly descend, because she had selected a parking lot that was less than a mile to the east as her target landing site.

The parking lot bordered two roads and was less than one half mile from a powerline substation. The parking lot contained power line wires on all four sides. She recalled that during descent into the parking lot, the speed of the balloon increased, and they bypassed the intended landing site. The basket came to a stop after impacting the ground, and after the envelope collided with powerline wires. While on the ground, she ensured that the fuel tanks and the pilot lights were off. The pilot and passengers remained in the basket until first responders arrived. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N866RA
Model/Series: A55S
Aircraft Category: Balloon
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: 
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation: KSAD,3175 ft msl 
Observation Time: 06:51 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 7 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 14°C /-9°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots / , 70°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.82 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Safford, AZ 
Destination: Safford, AZ

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 32.833229,-109.77147 (est)

Balloon lost power in both burners and struck powerlines.  

Date: 10-APR-22
Time: 14:15:00Z
Regis#: N866RA
Aircraft Model: A55S
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: EN ROUTE (ENR)

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