The Balloon Came To A Stop Near The Railroad Tracks And The Balloon’S Envelope Caught On An Empty Lumber Car

Location: Burlington, WI Accident Number: CEN22LA221
Date & Time: June 1, 2022, 20:15 Local Registration: N65009
Aircraft: Cameron Balloons Z-90 Injuries: 3 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Business

On June 1, 2022, about 2015 central daylight time, a Cameron Z-90 balloon, N65009, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Burlington, WI. The pilot and 2 passengers were seriously injured. The balloon was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 business flight.

The conductor on a Canadian National freight train reported that the train was traveling northbound when the balloon ran into the train. The conductor immediately put the train into emergency stop. Neither the conductor nor the engineer were injured. The engineer reported that he saw the balloon descending and began to slow the train as he did not know where the balloon was going. He said that he saw the balloon approach the train in his side mirror at which time he applied the emergency brakes. The balloon then landed in the grassy area between the railroad tracks and a street. As the balloon began to lose air and become limp it started to blow toward the rail cars. The balloon envelope caught on one of the cars, 15 cars back from the engine, and the balloon was pulled off the ground. The envelope then ripped away from the basket and ascended about 200 ft into the air. The pilot reported that he attempted to land on a road east of the railroad tracks. The balloon came to a stop near the railroad tracks and the balloon’s envelope caught on an empty lumber car.

A witness who was at the nearby dog park reported that the balloon came over the tree line south of the dog park about 50 ft above the trees. The balloon descended as if it were going to land in the park but continued over the adjacent street toward the railroad tracks, which at the time had a train traveling northbound. The balloon landed in the grassy area between the railroad tracks and the street, and the balloon envelope became limp. The balloon then caught on one of the train cars which pulled the balloon off the ground. The envelope tore away from the basket and the three individuals in the basket fell out.

The balloon basket was intact and found inverted near the railroad tracks. Both propane tanks were intact and remained secured in the basket. One fuel line was separated from one tank. The fuel line to the second tank was separated near the burner attachment end. The envelope came to rest on the street, about 500 ft north of the basket. The envelope load tapes and basket cable carabiners that attach the basket and burners to the envelope were substantially damaged.

The balloon was retained for further examination.