AKRON (Sept. 16, 2005) — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that pilot error during a thunderstorm was the probable cause of the June 16 crash in Florida of Goodyear's Stars & Stripes blimp.
In its report, the NTSB said the pilot intended to land as soon as possible when isolated showers seemed to become more severe. “Then he saw lightning in the area and decided he did not want to expose the ground crew to the risk of a lightning strike,” the report said.
The pilot then decided to fly the blimp out of the area and wait for the storms to pass, but the weather “deteriorated rapidly.” The airship was unable to climb or make headway.
“At one point the airship was 'being pushed backward and down at full-power climb,'” the report said. The blimp struck trees and power lines before crashing.
The NTSB report concluded that the pilot's inadequate in-flight planning resulted with the encounter with weather problems and subsequent collision.
A Goodyear spokesman told Tire Business that the tire maker has not yet concluded its own investigation of the incident. He said no decision has yet been made whether to repair the blimp.
The Stars & Stripes is based in Pompano Beach, Fla., and crashed in Coral Springs, Fla. Goodyear's Spirit of America is based in California, and the Spirit of Goodyear is based in Ohio.