On 19 May 2014, at about 0705 Eastern Standard Time, a Kavanagh Balloons D-84, registered VH-YPI, departed from a site 1.5 km west of Canowindra Aeroplane Landing Area (ALA), New South Wales, on a training flight, with an instructor and student pilot on board. The flight was conducted in visual meteorological conditions.
During the flight the student conducted a number of approaches to land, which were levelled out with intentional overshoot just above ground level. About 50 minutes into the flight, possible landing areas were selected. The balloon flew low and level and the landing area that favoured the surface wind conditions was selected. A normal approach was made using windy landing procedures, in about a 10 kt wind. The balloon flew over a line of trees on the eastern side of the landing area and descended.
At about 0805 and 10 km south-south-west of Canowindra ALA, and about 30 ft above the ground the student indicated to the instructor that they would be landing and turned out the pilot lights. At about 6 ft above the ground the student pulled the smart vent to land. The basket contacted the ground and the instructor was thrown forward and out of the basket while the student remained in the basket. The basket hit the instructor who was lying on the ground and the basket was dragged over him. The student continued to vent the balloon and it stopped a further 20 m downwind.
The instructor was seriously injured and transported to hospital, the student pilot was uninjured and the balloon was not damaged.
The accident highlights that it is important for everyone in the balloon basket to assume and maintain the landing position and to hold on tight until the balloon fully stops.