The pilot of the hot air balloon, which had three passengers on board, was forced to make a landing due to rapidly deteriorating weather conditions. In doing so, the balloon ended up in weather conditions that endangered the safety of the occupants. After several landing attempts, the balloon eventually came to a halt with the envelope against a tree line after a landing in which the basket skidded over the ground. During the landing, first the passengers fell out of the balloon’s basket. Hereafter, the pilot partly fell out of the balloon’s basket. The passengers sustained minor injuries.

Investigation publication

Weather forecasts for hot air ballooning

The weather conditions caught the pilot by surprise because he had paid insufficient attention to the weather forecast during the flight preparations. The weather forecasts specifically prepared for hot air ballooning mentioned high-risk weather conditions. These weather forecasts were not consulted by the pilot. Sources he did consult also indicated unfavourable circumstances, but these were not interpreted as such by him. The decision to carry out the flight was therefore based on an incomplete and outdated weather forecast.

Because of the vulnerability of hot air balloons and its occupants, there are clear requirements for consulting weather information before the flight. Because the weather is changeable, it is necessary to follow weather developments during the day. To do this, as many sources as possible must be used, but in particular the weather forecasts specifically prepared for hot air ballooning.

 

Recommendations

The assessment of whether a hot air balloon flight can be performed safely depends mainly on correct and up-to-date information about current and expected weather conditions. Passengers must be able to assume that a flight will only be performed if it is safe to do so.

To the Royal Netherlands Aeronautical Association (KNVvL):

  1. Bring the lessons from this accident to the attention of your members, and point out to them the procedure to follow when consulting the weather forecasts in preparation for a balloon flight. As part of good balloon airmanship, indicate which sources must be used and include them in the standard format of the Ballooning Operations Manual.

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Investigation data

Theme Aviation

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Report publication date

Type Shortened Investigation

Status Completed

Phase Publication

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