Man broke both legs in hot air balloon landing near Plymouth
A MAN broke both his legs when a hot-air balloon carrying 12 passengers landed 'fast' before tipping over in stronger than expected winds near Plymouth.
The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) has just released details of the injuries suffered by a 62-year-old man on May 23 this year.
According to the AAIB: "Following a firm but otherwise normal landing, a male passenger complained of pain in both legs which prevented him moving.
"The 62-year old passenger was subsequently taken to hospital and found to have suffered a serious injury to each leg."
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The report says that passengers were given a safety briefing before take-off, which included a chance to practise the landing position.
The Ultramagic SA N-250 balloon took off in winds up to 10kts and climbed to 5,000ft.
The pilot, who has 1,109 flying hours including 720 on the type of balloon used, then brought the balloon down to 1,000ft then 500ft to check the wind.
The wind had picked up to 13kts - about 15mph.
The report says: "The pilot reminded the passengers of the landing positions, telling them that the wind strength had not reduced as much as had been anticipated or forecast, and that they should hold on tightly and expect a fast landing.
"A landing field was identified and the passengers instructed to adopt landing positions. The balloon made a “positive” landing before dragging a little and lifting off again to a height of approximately 6 ft. The subsequent landing was gentle, after which the balloon dragged again until the basket slowly tipped over and the balloon deflated."
After the landing at 8pm 13 miles north west of Plymouth, a 62-year-old man on the flight appeared to be injured and was complaining of pain.
He said he was unable to move either of his legs. The pilot called for an ambulance and two paramedic vehicles attended - taking the man to hospital.
The report says: "The pilot was later told that the passenger had suffered a broken bone at the top of his shin in both legs, and that after surgery was confined to a wheelchair whilst the injuries healed."
The passenger, who has not been named, said he thought the landing was "extremely severe" and said the impact happened very shortly after the call to brace.
The balloon, which had one crew member aboard at the time, is six years old. There were no other reported injuries.