Two Hot Air Balloon Accidents Hurt 14 People Last Weekend
Long before the Wright brothers made their famed first flight in North Carolina, people had been taking to the skies in hot air balloons. Hot air balloons have been in use since 1783 and have long been a popular method of aerial tourism. While traveling in a hot air balloon is relatively safe, some of the deadliest accidents in the history of the practice have been recorded in recent years.
ABC Buffalo reports that 14 people were involved in two separate Allegany County hot air balloon accidents.
According to New York State Police, the incidents occurred in the Allegany County Town of Hume. They happened about ten minutes and approximately five miles apart from one another.
The first incident, which occurred just before 8 p.m. on Thursday near Mills Road. Nine people were aboard the flight that departed from Letchworth. The balloon encountered strong winds and came down in some trees. The pilot was able to lift the balloon out of the trees and land in a nearby field. All occupants were able to stay in the basket. One person was transported to a hospital with a leg injury.
The second accident occurred about 10 minutes later and about five miles away. Five people on board the balloon encountered strong winds which caused the pilot to lose control. The basket came down hard in a field, ejecting two of the passengers. They suffered from minor injuries.
The Federal Aviation Administration was notified of the incidents. Foul play is not currently suspected as a factor.
In February 2013, a hot air balloon caught fire over Luxor, Egypt, killing 19 of the 21 onboard. In 2012, another hot air balloon hit a power line over New Zealand and caught fire, killing 11 people. All hot air balloons operated in the U.S. must be inspected annually and if used commercially, every 100 hours of flight time.