Thursday, June 02, 2022

Cameron Z-90, N65009: Accident occurred June 01, 2022 in Burlington, Wisconsin

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; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Pure Magic Balloon Team LLC

Location: Burlington, Wisconsin
Accident Number: CEN22LA221
Date and Time: June 1, 2022, 20:15 Local
Registration: N65009
Injuries: 3 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Business

On June 1, 2022, about 2015 central daylight time, a Cameron Z-90 balloon, N65009, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Burlington, WI. The pilot and 2 passengers were seriously injured. The balloon was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal
Regulations Part 91 business flight.

The conductor on a Canadian National freight train reported that the train was traveling northbound when the balloon ran into the train. The conductor immediately put the train into emergency stop. Neither the conductor nor the engineer were injured.

The engineer reported that he saw the balloon descending and began to slow the train as he did not know where the balloon was going. He said that he saw the balloon approach the train in his side mirror at which time he applied the emergency brakes. The balloon then landed in the grassy area between the railroad tracks and a street. As the balloon began to lose air and become limp it started to blow toward the rail cars. The balloon envelope caught on one of the cars, 15 cars back from the engine, and the balloon was pulled off the ground. The envelope then ripped away from the basket and ascended about 200 ft into the air.

The pilot reported that he attempted to land on a road east of the railroad tracks. The balloon came to a stop near the railroad tracks and the balloon’s envelope caught on an empty lumber car.

A witness who was at the nearby dog park reported that the balloon came over the tree line south of the dog park about 50 ft above the trees. The balloon descended as if it were going to land in the park but continued over the adjacent street toward the railroad tracks, which at the time had a train traveling northbound. The balloon landed in the grassy area between the railroad tracks and the street, and the balloon envelope became limp. The balloon then caught on one of the train cars which pulled the balloon off the ground. The envelope tore away from the basket and the three individuals in the basket fell out. 

The balloon basket was intact and found inverted near the railroad tracks. Both propane tanks were intact and remained secured in the basket. One fuel line was separated from one tank. The fuel line to the second tank was separated near the burner attachment end. The envelope came to rest on the street, about 500 ft north of the basket. The envelope load tapes and basket cable carabiners that attach the basket and burners to the envelope were substantially damaged.

The balloon was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N65009
Model/Series: Z-90 
Aircraft Category: Balloon
Amateur Built:
Operator: On file 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KBUU,780 ft msl 
Observation Time: 19:55 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C /13°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.92 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Burlington, WI
Destination: Burlington, WI

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 Serious 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 42.671222,-88.268074
Balloon crested trees, crashed in a field and then was sucked under a passing freight train.  

Date: 01-JUN-22
Time: 22:55:00Z
Regis#: N65009
Aircraft Model: Z-90
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: SERIOUS
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: EN ROUTE (ENR)
Operation: 91

BURLINGTON, Wisconsin — Federal investigators are sending a balloon specialist to explore an incident Wednesday night that injured three people after a hot-air balloon collided with a moving train.

The Burlington Police Department initially said three adult occupants of the hot-air balloon all suffered life-threatening injuries and were taken to Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa.

By Thursday, all three were released from the hospital, identified as pilot Jimmy Winder, 62, of Bristol, Wisconsin, and passengers Nikolay Veltchev, 37, of Barrington, Illinois, and Elena Petrova, 36, of Arlington Heights, Illinois.

According to police, witnesses on the scene reported that the airborne balloon appeared "in distress" over Burlington and, during its descent, collided with a northbound Canadian National Railroad train.

Canadian National spokesman Jonathan Abecassis declined to comment on how fast the train was traveling or other details of the incident. Abecassis referred questions to local authorities.

The balloon operator, Lake Geneva Balloon Co., said Thursday a balloon pilot and two passengers were injured, and that two of them — it was not clear which ones — had been released by the hospital.

John Trione, chief pilot and manager of the balloon company, said the crash occurred as the pilot was attempting to land on a road in a park while a freight train was moving through the area.

"The balloon and its occupants were pulled into contact with the train," Trione said.

Weather conditions at the time were unremarkable, with clear skies and mild winds.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are helping state and local police investigate the incident.

NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said the federal agency should have a preliminary report within two weeks, and that it could take a year or longer to produce a full report on the incident.

Weiss said the NTSB gets involved whenever there is an accident involving an aircraft, including hot-air balloons.

A balloon specialist from Denver, Colorado, is being sent to help with the investigation in Burlington, Weiss said. Asked whether the government has ever before seen a collision between a hot-air balloon and a moving train, Weiss said: "We get a lot of unusual cases — let's just leave it at that. We see a lot of things."

Burlington police said they were called at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday to the scene of the incident in the 400 block of Calumet Street, near Downtown Burlington. Providing assistance with the injured people were the Burlington Fire Department and other fire departments from Waterford, Rochester and Kansasville.

Two patients were flown to Froedtert by helicopter ambulance, and one was transported by a ground ambulance.

Ryan Lamp, who works at the nearby Casey’s General Store, 100 S. Dodge St., told a reporter that many customers told him a hot-air balloon flying over an industrial building appeared to hit a chimney and then crash and collide with a moving train.

The police department asked that anyone with information about the incident contact the Burlington Police Department at 262-342-1104 or via email at

The department said Canadian National Railroad, the Racine County Sheriff’s Office and Racine County Communications also assisted at the crash site. Canadian National and the Wisconsin State Patrol are helping with the investigation.

On Facebook, some people posted photographs that they said showed the balloon in flight shortly before the crash. In some photos, it appeared that more than one balloon was present.

Lake Geneva Balloon Co., based in Lake Geneva, provides sightseeing balloon rides for tourists and other visitors. On clear days, the company's balloons are often seen floating high in the sky over the Lake Geneva area.

According to the company's website, Trione received a commercial pilot’s certificate for hot-air balloons in 2000, and he created Lake Geneva Balloon Co. two years later.

In the company's statement Thursday, Trione said the company has a 20-year record of safety, but that all flights are being suspended for a week because of the crash.

"Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our guests," he said. "Our entire company is devastated."

Of the three injured people, Trione said, "Their recovery is our most important consideration, and our hearts and prayers are with them."

1 comment:

  1. Yes, this was a rather unusual accident. If a train hits my balloon, I am bailing out over the side; I don't want to see what the underside of a train looks like.