Friday, October 14, 2005

Those Crazy Balloonists! (a/k/a Accident of the Week)

A little something different for this week's accident report!
NTSB Identification: DEN06LA002
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 08, 2005 in Albuquerque, NM
Aircraft: Aerostar S57-A, registration: N3635U
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

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.

On October 8, 2005 approximately 0830 mountain daylight time, an Aerostar S57-A, N3635U, operated and piloted by a private pilot, was substantially damaged when it struck trees and impacted terrain north of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 without a flight plan. The pilot and two passengers on board the airplane were not injured. The flight originated approximately 0800 from the Balloon Festival launching field in Albuquerque.

According to the FAA inspector who interviewed the pilot, the balloon had been aloft approximately 20 minutes when the pilot decided to land on a sand bar in the middle of the Rio Grande. He observed other balloonists making "splash and dash" (touching down in the water and lifting off again). The pilot decided to do the same. The balloon lifted off and went through 10-foot trees along the river bank that ripped and destroyed the envelope.
"Splash and dash"??? That sounds like the equivalent of the airplane pilot that decides to do a low altitude steep turn over his house -- often with disastrous results. Thankfully, no one was injured this time.

Please, kids, play it a little safer out there!

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