|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||0601 To 1200|
|Altitude||agl single value : 30|
|Operator||general aviation : corporate|
|Make Model Name||Balloon|
|Operating Under FAR Part||Part 91|
|Flight Phase||descent : approach|
|Route In Use||approach : visual|
|Affiliation||company : corporate|
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
|Qualification||pilot : commercial|
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 13|
flight time total : 2340
flight time type : 1000
|Anomaly||conflict : airborne less severe|
inflight encounter other
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Resolutory Action||none taken : detected after the fact|
|Problem Areas||Flight Crew Human Performance|
|Primary Problem||Flight Crew Human Performance|
Liftoff was from a special event in my head 105000 cubic ft hot air balloon fully loaded with 5 occupants. I let a fellow pilot act as PIC for this flight. He did the takeoff and I took over midway through the flight. The landing was in the backyard of a home in a subdivision, a typical balloon landing choice. It was to be a moderately difficult landing approach due to faster than normal morning surface winds of 8-9 mph (5 mph or less is ideal for balloons), and a small background, necessitating a steep, somewhat fast descent over the house, full burner power at about 15 ft AGL to flare it out and then full vent to drain the excess heat out, then resealing the vent to keep the fabric from collapsing into the basket. I have the 26 yrs experience with about 2800 flts. This landing approach was well within my capabilities. I started my descent, tapping the burner on as needed to keep flying straight down my imaginary approach line to a spot I had picked in the backyard to begin flaring out at. As I passed over the chimney I was surprised to feel a bump and turned around to see 3 or 4 bricks tumbling down the roof. I finished the landing and made arrangements with the landowner to pay for the chimney repairs. I was more surprised than anyone that we hit the chimney and it took a whole day of replaying the approach in my mind before I finally figured out what must have happened. Here's my theory: 1) missed step in landing routine. Normally on a difficult landing approach like this, I rotate the basket so the passenger are behind me, and I am in front, facing the target, with a burner and control line in each hand. In this position I can see in front of and under the balloon, and add additional heat with the second burner when needed to adjust for unexpected sink or gusts. After I took over on this flight I forgot to do this step in my landing routine and stayed on the side of the basket where the passenger were partially blocking my view of the chimney as we passed over it. From my vantage point I thought I had cleared the chimney, which was on the opposite side of the basket. Also, as I remembered later, when we took off, the side opposite me, with all the passenger weight, lifted up last, meaning it was hanging 2 or 3 inches lower than my side. That and not being able to see the chimney at the last moment is probably why I thought we had cleared it. 2) pilot fatigue. This was the last day of a 3-DAY event with an early morning flight, late afternoon flight, and a nighttime static display, called a 'glow,' for the crowds, then a late-night refueling. I was up at XA15 each morning and in bed around XY30 each night, getting about 5 hours sleep per night after 3 inflations and pack-ups each day. The 3 days prior to that I had driven by myself, 12 hours a day, from florida to ohio and then over to the festival in new jersey, also probably getting no more than 6 hours of sleep each night. Conclusion: I believe 6 days of sleep deprivation caused me to forget an important step in my landing routine, which led to this incident.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: HOT AIR BALLOON PLT COLLIDES WITH THE CHIMNEY OF A HOUSE DURING AN APCH TO LNDG.
Narrative: LIFTOFF WAS FROM A SPECIAL EVENT IN MY HEAD 105000 CUBIC FT HOT AIR BALLOON FULLY LOADED WITH 5 OCCUPANTS. I LET A FELLOW PLT ACT AS PIC FOR THIS FLT. HE DID THE TKOF AND I TOOK OVER MIDWAY THROUGH THE FLT. THE LNDG WAS IN THE BACKYARD OF A HOME IN A SUBDIVISION, A TYPICAL BALLOON LNDG CHOICE. IT WAS TO BE A MODERATELY DIFFICULT LNDG APCH DUE TO FASTER THAN NORMAL MORNING SURFACE WINDS OF 8-9 MPH (5 MPH OR LESS IS IDEAL FOR BALLOONS), AND A SMALL BACKGROUND, NECESSITATING A STEEP, SOMEWHAT FAST DSCNT OVER THE HOUSE, FULL BURNER PWR AT ABOUT 15 FT AGL TO FLARE IT OUT AND THEN FULL VENT TO DRAIN THE EXCESS HEAT OUT, THEN RESEALING THE VENT TO KEEP THE FABRIC FROM COLLAPSING INTO THE BASKET. I HAVE THE 26 YRS EXPERIENCE WITH ABOUT 2800 FLTS. THIS LNDG APCH WAS WELL WITHIN MY CAPABILITIES. I STARTED MY DSCNT, TAPPING THE BURNER ON AS NEEDED TO KEEP FLYING STRAIGHT DOWN MY IMAGINARY APCH LINE TO A SPOT I HAD PICKED IN THE BACKYARD TO BEGIN FLARING OUT AT. AS I PASSED OVER THE CHIMNEY I WAS SURPRISED TO FEEL A BUMP AND TURNED AROUND TO SEE 3 OR 4 BRICKS TUMBLING DOWN THE ROOF. I FINISHED THE LNDG AND MADE ARRANGEMENTS WITH THE LANDOWNER TO PAY FOR THE CHIMNEY REPAIRS. I WAS MORE SURPRISED THAN ANYONE THAT WE HIT THE CHIMNEY AND IT TOOK A WHOLE DAY OF REPLAYING THE APCH IN MY MIND BEFORE I FINALLY FIGURED OUT WHAT MUST HAVE HAPPENED. HERE'S MY THEORY: 1) MISSED STEP IN LNDG ROUTINE. NORMALLY ON A DIFFICULT LNDG APCH LIKE THIS, I ROTATE THE BASKET SO THE PAX ARE BEHIND ME, AND I AM IN FRONT, FACING THE TARGET, WITH A BURNER AND CTL LINE IN EACH HAND. IN THIS POS I CAN SEE IN FRONT OF AND UNDER THE BALLOON, AND ADD ADDITIONAL HEAT WITH THE SECOND BURNER WHEN NEEDED TO ADJUST FOR UNEXPECTED SINK OR GUSTS. AFTER I TOOK OVER ON THIS FLT I FORGOT TO DO THIS STEP IN MY LNDG ROUTINE AND STAYED ON THE SIDE OF THE BASKET WHERE THE PAX WERE PARTIALLY BLOCKING MY VIEW OF THE CHIMNEY AS WE PASSED OVER IT. FROM MY VANTAGE POINT I THOUGHT I HAD CLRED THE CHIMNEY, WHICH WAS ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE BASKET. ALSO, AS I REMEMBERED LATER, WHEN WE TOOK OFF, THE SIDE OPPOSITE ME, WITH ALL THE PAX WT, LIFTED UP LAST, MEANING IT WAS HANGING 2 OR 3 INCHES LOWER THAN MY SIDE. THAT AND NOT BEING ABLE TO SEE THE CHIMNEY AT THE LAST MOMENT IS PROBABLY WHY I THOUGHT WE HAD CLRED IT. 2) PLT FATIGUE. THIS WAS THE LAST DAY OF A 3-DAY EVENT WITH AN EARLY MORNING FLT, LATE AFTERNOON FLT, AND A NIGHTTIME STATIC DISPLAY, CALLED A 'GLOW,' FOR THE CROWDS, THEN A LATE-NIGHT REFUELING. I WAS UP AT XA15 EACH MORNING AND IN BED AROUND XY30 EACH NIGHT, GETTING ABOUT 5 HRS SLEEP PER NIGHT AFTER 3 INFLATIONS AND PACK-UPS EACH DAY. THE 3 DAYS PRIOR TO THAT I HAD DRIVEN BY MYSELF, 12 HRS A DAY, FROM FLORIDA TO OHIO AND THEN OVER TO THE FESTIVAL IN NEW JERSEY, ALSO PROBABLY GETTING NO MORE THAN 6 HRS OF SLEEP EACH NIGHT. CONCLUSION: I BELIEVE 6 DAYS OF SLEEP DEPRIVATION CAUSED ME TO FORGET AN IMPORTANT STEP IN MY LNDG ROUTINE, WHICH LED TO THIS INCIDENT.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of July 2007 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.