WASHINGTON, D.C. – Citing the pilot’s poor decision-making as one of the biggest factors in the Lockhart balloon crash, the National Transportation Safety Board released its final report on the incident.
On July 30, 2016, the balloon carrying 15 people and the pilot crashed into powerlines around 7:45 a.m. in a field outside Lockhart.
Everyone on board died. Autopsy results indicated the causes of death for the occupants included various combinations of blunt force trauma, thermal burns and inhalation injuries.
In it the report the NTSB said the pilot had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known to cause cognitive deficits that may affect decision-making and ultimately, safety of flight.
If that had been known it is unlikely an aviation medical examiner would have issued a medical certificate.
Another issue was weather. Though it was visibly clear when the pilot checked before launch, the weather conditions showed that fog and low clouds were likely to form.
The pilot said before launch that he “flies between the clouds” but decided to land in reduced visibility conditions that diminished his ability to see and avoid the powerlines that he ultimately flew into.
A lack of federal oversight from the Federal Aviation Adminstration was also listed as a possible cause.
“The FAA did not detect the pilot’s history of drug and alcohol convictions for over 20 years,” the report said. “The FAA also did not identify the pilot’s failure to properly report his history of offenses on his 1996 application for a third-class medical certificate, and, because the pilot was not required to obtain a medical certificate as a commercial balloon pilot, the FAA did not have further opportunities to identify his convictions via the medical certification process."
Below is the entire NTSB report.