National Transportation Board Says Texas Hot Air Balloon Likely Hit Power Lines Before Crash


NTB says the hot air balloon likely hit power lines before crashing to the ground killing all aboard in Texas.

According to NBC News and other news outlets, the hot air balloon that crashed in Texas over the weekend killing all 16 people aboard likely hit power lines before the crash. The NTSB is trying to determine exactly what happened that caused the worst hot air balloon accident and fatalities in US history. Personally, I just have never really heard, not would I ever get into a balloon that contained 16 people.

A hot air balloon that crashed in Texas, killing all 16 people on board, likely hit power lines before it plummeted to the ground, the National Transportation Board said Sunday.

A fire broke out on the balloon but it was not clear whether this happened before or after it hit the electrical wires near the town of Lockhart on Saturday, NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said.

The balloon’s material was discovered about three-quarters of a mile from the basket, where all of the victims’ bodies were also found, Sumwalt added. The balloon had traveled about 8 miles before falling to the pasture below, he said.

“We’re looking at operation of balloon, pilot, and company that operated the balloon,” Sumwalt said, identifying the operating company as Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides.

He said the pilot — Skip Nichols — was certified to fly hot air balloons, and the NTSB would be looking at the company’s inspection records.

Nichols was named in a statement from his company, Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides. The status of his Facebook page was also switched to “remembering,” which the social network activates for users who have died.

Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides has a Better Business Bureau rating of D+ and a Yelp rating of 1.5 stars, mostly due to complaints about canceled and rescheduled flights.

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  • Comments

    One Response to “National Transportation Board Says Texas Hot Air Balloon Likely Hit Power Lines Before Crash”

    1. A Texas Grandfather on August 2nd, 2016 9:16 am

      Sixteen people in the gondola of a hot air balloon is very questionable. What was the lift capacity of the balloon? It would depend on a lot of factors including the heat output of the air heat unit, the atmosphere itself and the weight of the gondola and the people. Sixteen people depending on their size and weight could weigh between one and one and one-half tons.

      The FAA should examine all these with an eye towards certification of a particular configuration. The use of hot air balloons for commercial purposes needs to be examined for safety rules including operator certification.

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