The pilot and passenger departed on a balloon flight and had been airborne for a little over an hour before making three attempts to land near Rio Rancho, N.M.
The wind was too strong on the first attempt. On the next attempt, they found themselves over a residential subdivision that prevented them from landing.
The pilot then saw an open area on the other side of a street with power lines running along it. His intent was to get over the power lines and then drop the balloon down to the ground.
They were over the road and a couple of feet over the power lines when the balloon dropped and hit the power lines. The pilot engaged the burner and the basket slid off the first two wires, but when the basket touched the third wire there was an electrical short and then an explosion.
The pilot reported the explosion was the last thing he remembered until he found himself on the ground with the envelope going down. Both he and the passenger were seriously injured.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s failure to maintain adequate clearance from power lines on approach to land, resulting in a collision with the wires, a spark, and a subsequent explosion and on-board fire.
NTSB Identification: CEN14LA007
This October 2013 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.