Print National Transportation Safety Board reports on crash
Written by Greg Ruland   
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 00:00

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board suggested the Cornville pilot of an ultralight aircraft that collided with a hot air balloon Oct. 16 was taking photographs when the crash took place.

A paraplane dangles from a hot air balloon as both rapidly descend after colliding above the Cottonwood Airfest around  8 a.m., Oct. 16.After the crash, ultralight pilot Ken Ritchie allegedly told the balloon pilot he was taking photographs at the time of the collision, the NTSB report stated Oct. 28.

According to the balloon pilot, who sustained only minor injuries, his balloon was operating at 5,500 feet when he noticed Ritchie’s ultralight maneuvering near the skin of his balloon shortly after 7:30 a.m.

The balloon pilot told investigators he tried to warn Ritchie away from his balloon by shouting, but it was too late. Ritchie’s ultralight became tangled in the ropes of the balloon. The two aircraft sank, linked together and spiraling to the ground.

The ultralight and the balloon were taking part in Cottonwood Airfest 2010. Both took off from Cottonwood airport shortly after 7 a.m.

Ritchie was seriously injured in the crash, as was a balloon passenger. The balloon pilot and a second passenger sustained minor injuries.

Clear, sunny skies Oct. 16, the day of Airfest, meant visual meteorological conditions were in place and no flight plans were filed before the aircraft ascended.

The Lindstrand 90A hot air balloon received “substantial damage,” the report stated.

Ritchie’s ultralight was not registered, according to the report.