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Summary

Summary

The balloon pilot and his two passengers were conducting a private flight as part of the Canberra balloon festival. The balloon's equipment included three aluminium liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) fuel cylinders, dual burners, three radios, a motorcycle-type lead-acid battery, an altimeter and a variometer. After completing a normal flight, the pilot prepared to land the balloon on an area of parkland. This area was relatively small, with large trees on the approach and a street and houses in the direction of flight. Following the touchdown, as the balloon envelope continued to travel, the basket gradually tipped over and the pilot pulled the ripline to deflate the envelope. At about that time, the occupants of the basket noticed a fireball in the basket and immediately evacuated. Witnesses described the flames as yellow. The pilot stated that he let go of the ripline and allowed the balloon to ascend, deciding that it was safer for the fuel cylinders to be in the air than on the ground surrounded by bystanders. Witnesses heard an explosion and saw an object fall from the remains of the basket. The fire continued to burn, and subsequently consumed the wicker basket and damaged the lower panels and skirt of the envelope. Debris from the balloon fell across three suburbs and damaged several houses. The remains of the balloon were subsequently found 1.6 km from the initial landing point.

The pilot of the balloon was wearing a hat, a short-sleeved cotton shirt, trousers, gloves and shoes. He sustained serious burns to his forearms, face and neck. The male passenger was wearing a woollen lumberjack-style long-sleeved shirt, jeans, gloves, boots, sunglasses and a hat. He sustained minor burns to his face and wrists and was the only occupant not admitted to hospital. The female passenger was wearing running shoes, three-quarter length pants, gloves and a long-sleeved top which did not tuck into the waistband of her pants. She sustained serious burns to her shins and stomach.

 
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