Cat. 2 investigation report: simplified-format report, adapted to the circumstances of the occurrence and the investigation stakes.
The pilot, accompanied by three passengers, took off at around 17:45 for a pleasure flight. After 40 minutes of flight, the pilot looked for an area suitable for landing but the area the balloon was flying over was densely wooded. At around 18:30, he identified a field and started the approach. After spotting high voltage lines, he aborted the approach and continued the flight. A few minutes before the beginning of the aeronautical night, he identified another field and opted for an aiming point in the middle of this field.
The balloon’s vertical speed of descent was approximately 1.5 m/s. Upon approaching the ground, the pilot turned off the pilot lights and informed the passengers of imminent contact with the ground. During the landing, the basket hit the ground hard and bounced. Two passengersreceived ankle injuries when the basket hit the ground. The basket touched the ground around 10 m further on and came to a stop.
The pilot encountered difficulties finding a field suitable for a safe landing with aeronautical night approaching. He made the approach in an upwardly sloping field with a balloon close to its maximum weight limit. Having not sufficiently anticipated the slope, the pilot did not heat the envelope enough before impact with the ground and was unable to prevent a hard landing.