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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: FTW83FA001
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, October 03, 1982 in ALBUQUERQUE, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/03/1983
Aircraft: Thunder Balloons, Ltd. AX9-140, registration: N9606A
Injuries: 4 Fatal, 3 Serious, 1 Minor, 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

AFTER WHAT WAS DESCRIBED AS A NORMAL LANDING LIQUID PROPANE BEGAN ESCAPING. THE PROPANE VAPORIZED & WAS IGNITED ENGULFING THE GONDOLA IN FLAMES. FOUR PAX EXITED THE GONDOLA WHILE IT WAS STILL ON THE GROUND & THE LAST SURVIVOR EXITEDAT ABOUT 25 FT AS THE BALLOON BEGAN RISING. THE REMAINING 4 PAX BEGAN JUMPING OR FALLING FROM THE GONDOLA AT ABOUT 100 FT WITH THE LAST EXITING AT AN ESTIMATED 600 FT AGL. THE BALLOON CONTINUED TO RISE & AT ABOUT 1,000 FT TWO PROPANE TANKS EXPLODED. THE OWNER/PILOT HAD INSTALLED 6 PROPANE CYLINDERS. A PORTION OF ONE TEE FITTING WAS DETERMINED TO BE BRASS, & ACCORDING TO A METALLURGICAL REPORT THE HOSES USED TO MANIFOLD THE PROPANE CYLINDERS WERE DETERMINED TO BE RUBBER COVERED BY A WOVEN FABRIC. ONLY CADIUM PLATED STEEL FITTINGS & WIRE MESH REINFORCED HOSES WERE RECOMMENDED BY THUNDER BALLOONS,LTD. & AT NO TIME WOULD BRASS FITTINGS & NON-WIRE MESH HOSES BE RECOMMENDED BY THEM.


The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

  • BALLOON EQUIPMENT,BURNER SYSTEM..IMPROPER
  • MAINTENANCE,MAJOR ALTERATION..IMPROPER..PILOT IN COMMAND
  • FUEL SYSTEM,LINE..IMPROPER
  • FUEL SYSTEM,LINE..LEAK
  • FUEL SYSTEM,LINE FITTING..IMPROPER
  • FUEL SYSTEM,LINE FITTING..LEAK
  • FUEL SYSTEM..FIRE

Contributing Factors:
Full narrative is not available