Dangers of Hot Air Balloons

by | Jan 3, 2024 | Aviation Accident

While hot air balloon mishaps are rare compared to the accidents involving other aircraft, they can happen and often result in catastrophic results.

In July of 2021, a hot air balloon pilot died after becoming entangled in gear underneath the gondola following a failed landing attempt. As the hot air balloon approached for landing, the forward speed caused the pilot and one passenger on board to fall out of the gondola. The passenger was relatively uninjured, however, the hot air balloon regained lift and began climbing in altitude. In the commotion of the failed landing, the pilot became entangled underneath the gondola where he remained as the balloon started to climb in elevation.  As the balloon continued to climb, the pilot came loose from the entanglement and fell to his death.  The three remaining passengers were rescued after the balloon came to rest in a thicket of trees.

In the preceding month, June 2021, five people were killed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when their hot air balloon struck power lines approximately 100 feet above the ground. The gondola caught fire and separated from the envelope. Tragically, all five people on board died from the ensuing fall.

In July 2016, sixteen people perished in the deadliest hot air balloon accident in U.S. history. The frightening episode occurred in Lockhart, Texas and again, involved the hot air balloon striking power lines. The gondola impacted a set of power lines, became engulfed in an ensuring fire and fell to the ground.

Before the incidents described above, the preceding eight hot air balloon mishaps occurred between October 1992 and May 2014. All eight mishaps involved the hot air balloon striking a set of power lines and either: separating the gondola from the balloon, starting an uncontrollable fire in the gondola or both.

The review of accidents in the paragraphs above make it clear that hot air balloons, like every other aircraft, take flight with a certain amount of risk and such risk is generally caused by clearly identifiable hazards. It is necessary for those that own and operate hot air balloons do so in a way that reasonably mitigates risk, which promotes the safety of their passengers and the people on the ground below. When owners and operators negligently fail to appropriately mitigate risk, the dangers associated with flying in a hot air balloon can become magnified, which over time, makes an ensuing mishap nearly certain. When such a mishap occurs, whether in a hot air balloon or any other aircraft, it is important for survivors and loved ones of the deceased victims to understand their rights.

Spagnoletti Law Firm has attorneys licensed in Texas, Florida, and New York.  We have handled numerous cases involving the failure of necessary equipment on a plane or helicopter in both federal and state court across the country.  When it comes to aviation, safety must come first.  Our attorneys have extensive experience in plane and helicopter crash litigation and the skills needed to aggressively represent the families of loved ones who have lost their lives or those who have been seriously injured in a plane or helicopter crash.  The experienced aviation attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one was a victim of a hot air balloon accident. Please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or 877-678-5864 to learn more about your legal rights.