Accident Hot air balloon 'James Cook' unregistered, Saturday 22 November 1975
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Date:Saturday 22 November 1975
Type:Silhouette image of generic BALL model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Hot air balloon 'James Cook'
Owner/operator:T P McCormack
Registration: unregistered
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Brucedale 10km north of Wagga Wagga, NSW -   Australia
Phase: En route
Departure airport:10km N of Wagga Wagga, NSW
Destination airport:
Investigating agency: BASI
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
The basic design of the balloon, the 'James Cook', was conventional. When inflated, the envelope was some 21 metres high and its greatest diameter was approximately 15 metres. A chimney of about four metres diameter was located at the top of the balloon and this enabled rapid deflation to be made on landing. To close the chimney before flight, the upper edge of the chimney skirt was gathered and a loop of rope was threaded through 'D' rings attached to the periphery of the skirt. A pin through an eye in the end of the rope loop kept the chimney closed. When rapid deflation was required, the pin, which was retained by a 13.6 kg breaking strain thread, was withdrawn on a control line extending down to within easy reach of the occupants of the basket. The chimney could be opened but not closed in flight.

Earlier in the day, the balloon had successfully completed a cross-country flight at altitudes up to 9000 feet. After landing, the four propane gas cylinders carried in the basket were recharged and a second flight was planned in which the pilot replaced a previous crew member. This flight was to enable him to practice altitude control at lower levels. The weather was fine and hot and there was a light north-westerly wind. After becoming airborne the balloon drifted slowly with its height varying between about 500 feet and near ground level. It had been airborne for about 80 minutes when, in response to a question from an onlooker on the ground, the crew advised that the height of the balloon was 400 feet. A few minutes later the balloon commenced to spin with the basket swinging out at an angle of about 45 degrees. The chimney at the top of the balloon was seen to be open as the envelope started to collapse and the balloon plummeted towards the ground. At a height of about 150 feet, the pilot left the basket and activated his parachute, but there was insufficient time for it to deploy before he struck the ground. The propane gas burner was operating during the descent, and when the balloon struck the ground, it burst into flames. At the time of the accident, a strong 'willy willy' (mini tornado) was reported to have passed through the area.

The cause of the accident was an in-flight activation of the rapid deflation system. A possible explanation
is that the activation occurred when, following an encounter with a 'willy willy', spinning of the envelope and
basket resulted In the chimney control line.entangling with the twisting basket and burner suspension lines.

Both persons on board were killed: Anthony Herbert Hayes (pilot) and Terrance Patrick McCormack (co-pilot).

The reported crash location of Brucedale (Wagga Wagga) is located in the Murrumbidgee Region region, New South Wales (NSW) in Australia. The satellite coordinates of Brucedale are: latitude 35°2'36"S and longitude 147°24'44"E

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: BASI
Report number: 
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report



Revision history:

01-Aug-2018 10:10 Pineapple Added
18-Mar-2022 04:57 Ron Averes Updated [Aircraft type]
21-Mar-2022 06:37 Ron Averes Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Operator, Source]
07-Sep-2022 23:14 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Registration, Location, Phase, Source, Narrative, Category]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

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