Passenger suffered serious neck injury as balloon bounced into ditch after flight over York
A balloon flight ended with two people being injured after a heavy landing, an investigation has found.
Fourteen passengers and one crew member were on board hot air balloon G-ELMR for the flight over York on 13 September last year.
At the end of the 50-minute trip, the pilot, aged 58, started the descent, choosing a landing spot in a field at Deighton, south of York.
“With the wind varying in direction, the pilot then realised that the burns he had done to reduce the descent rate were not going to be sufficient to stop the balloon touching down short of his target field,” said a report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.
The pilot, who had 2,821 hours of flying experience, told the passengers to adopt their rehearsed landing positions. And then he committed to landing in a field of short stubble.
“G-ELMR touched down harder than the pilot would have liked, and the balloon bounced 20 to 30 ft into the air before coming to rest in a wide ditch,” the report said.
One of the passengers sustained a neck injury described as serious. Another reported less serious injuries later.
The report concluded: “Having adopted a high rate of descent rate ready for the end of the flight, the pilot then required a long burn to reduce this descent rate for landing.
“During this burn it was difficult for the pilot to instruct the passengers to adopt their landing positions due to the noise.
“The balloon touched down heavily, before bouncing and coming to rest in a ditch. Two of the passengers were injured, possibly due to not being in the correct landing position throughout the sequence.”