The pilot stated that the purpose of the flight was to take the 11 passengers on a hot-air balloon sightseeing tour near Wittman, Arizona. He reviewed the weather forecast for the day, which disclosed that wind speeds would be less than 8 mph.
The morning departure occurred in calm wind conditions and the pilot maneuvered the balloon for about 30 to 40 minutes before he noticed the wind was becoming stronger.
As he descended to land, he noted that the wind was reaching 15 to 20 mph. In an effort to make a quick stop, he attempted to activate the rapid deflation valve, which was slower than he expected.
The balloon subsequently hit a tree, which resulted in substantial damage to the basket and minor injuries to two of those onboard the balloon.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s failure to maintain control of the balloon when the wind unexpectedly increased, which resulted in a collision with trees during the landing.
NTSB Identification: WPR15CA044
This November 2014 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.