Half an hour after taking off for a planned flight of one hour, the pilot observed that the air mass in which the balloon was flying showed signs of instability. Thinking that there would be a hard landing and before looking for an accessible landing site, he prepared the eight passengers for a firm touchdown, recalling the safety instructions that he had given to them at the beginning of the flight. In particular, the pilot had the passengers repeat the position to be adopted for the landing.
The field chosen for the landing was situated just after a wood. At low height during the approach, the balloon was subjected to a sudden downdraft and struck tree tops. Surprised, the pilot activated the burners to clear the basket from the trees. The balloon rapidly gained height and while flying over the edge of the wood, the pilot opened the rapid deflation system valve in order to land as quickly as possible and avoid getting too close to a power line situated at right angles to its path at the end of the field. The balloon made a hard landing and the basket turned over onto the long side before being dragged along the ground for a few metres. Two passengers were injured, one of them seriously.
The accident was the result of the combination of several factors linked to the aerology and the site chosen for the landing. These consequences were exacerbated by the position adopted by the seriously injured passenger.
The investigation revealed that the geometry of certain baskets, used to their maximum capacity, does not systematically allow passengers, whatever their build, to adopt the safety position considered optimal to prevent serious injuries to lower limbs during a hard landing.
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