Epidemiology of hot-air balloon crashes in the U.S., 1984-88

D. L. Frankenfield, S. P. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Hot-air ballooning crashes in the U.S. during 1984-88 were examined using National Transportation Safety Board reports. The 138 crashes occurred most frequently during recreational flights (51% of the total) and paid rides (28%). A total of 480 persons were involved; 6 were killed and 123 seriously injured. Pilot error contributed to 88% of the crashes, and equipment failure or malfunction to 11%. Of the six fatal crashes, five involved collision with power lines. Crashes occurring outside optimal flying times accounted for 15% of the total. Pilots with 10 h or less flight time accounted for fewer than expected crashes. All five student pilots flying solo sustained serious injuries. Suggested prevention efforts include better training in avoidance of power lines and proper handling of rapid descents; more stringent and frequent flight testing of pilots; and a longer training period before granting pilot certificates. Attention should be given to delethalizing balloon crashes and encouraging the use of protective equipment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-6
Number of pages4
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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