Context.— Despite the increased popularity of hot-air balloon flight, data on
injuries and fatalities associated with hot-air balloon crashes are limited.
Objective.— To determine factors associated with injury and death in hot-air balloon
Design.— Retrospective review of data collected from reports and investigations
by the Civil Aeronautics Board and the National Transportation Safety Board.
Study Subjects.— Individuals involved in US hot-air balloon crashes from 1964 to 1995.
Main Outcome Measures.— Total number of crashes and factors associated with fatality or serious
Results.— From 1964 to 1995, a total of 495 hot-air balloon crashes involving
1533 persons were reported and included 92 fatalities and 384 serious injuries.
Pilot error or incapacitation was determined subjectively by crash investigators
to contribute to 85.1% of the crashes. In univariate analysis, collision with
the ground was the most significant predictor of a fatality or serious injury
(P<.001), and power-line contact was the most
significant predictor of fatality (P<.001). In
multiple logistic regression, only the type of object struck by a balloon
predicted a fatal crash or a fatality or serious injury.
Conclusions.— Although a number of factors likely contribute to increased severity
of hot-air balloon crashes, the object struck during a crash is most predictive
of fatality or serious injury. Preventive efforts are needed to decrease future