The inherent danger of riding in a hot air balloon is not always apparent to passengers. Here are 10 hot air balloon rides that ended as a disaster.
1. Balloons over Wairarapa
At the Balloons over Wairarapa hot air balloon festival in New Zealand in 2012, 11 people died in a tragic hot air balloon accident.
2. 1979 Albuquerque International Balloon Festival
Over 350 balloons were in the airspace around Albuquerque at the 1979 International Balloon Festival. A small group of around 20 hot air balloons were attempting to fly over the Sandia Mountains. The wind picked up and it collapsed one of the hot air balloons. The hot air balloon then dropped very quickly to the ground and 2 people in the balloon died. Only 8 of the hot air balloons even made a successful summit of the mountain range, however the rest of the hot air balloonists were extremely lucky that the wind did not also cause their hot air balloon to fail and fall to the ground.
3. 1982 Albuquerque International Balloon Festival
At the 1982 Albuquerque International Balloon Festival there were numerous accidents, however the tragedy was with a balloon disaster that killed 4 people. The balloon had landed and the pilot got out of the wicker. One of the tanks exploded. As soon as the tank exploded, 3-4 people jumped out. As soon as they jumped out the balloon began to rise because there was not enough weight to hold it down.
One young girl attempted to jump out but she was dangling on with one arm. Her mother and father were chasing after the balloon on the ground yelling for her to jump. She was scared to jump. When she did jump it was too late and she died upon impact of hitting the ground in front of her mother. The father actually had to tackle the mother to keep her from attempting to catch the girl as it would have likely killed both of them.
Once the girl jumped out the hot air balloon began to rise even faster. The second tank on board exploded and the other 3 people on the hot air balloon also died. 4 People died in one of the most heartrending hot air balloon disasters ever.
Another hot air balloon disaster happened that same day at Albuquerque and 2 more people died.
4. Outback Collision
In 1989 2 hot air balloons were flying over the Australian Outback when they collided. The passengers tried to lock arms with the passengers in the other balloon, but the balloons plummeted to the ground. All 13 passengers on the 2 hot air balloons died. It was reported that 3 of the passengers attempted to jump out of the wicker basket at the last moment before impact, but it did not work. At the time of the accident, it was considered the most tragic hot air balloon disaster ever. Today it still holds the title for most people killed in a single hot air balloon crash.
5. Barrington Hills Balloon Crash
In 1981 5 people died in a hot air balloon crash near Chicago, Illinois. The hot air balloon was reported to have struck an electrical wire transmission line. 5 people including the pilot of the balloon died. Only 1 person survived and he was burned extremely badly. One of the passengers was a 24 year old young man who had been given the hot air balloon ride as a birthday gift.
6. Rheindalen Military Show
At the 2003 Rheindalen Military show in Germany a 5-year-old girl died. It was a freak accident that occurred. The hot air balloon was tethered to the ground. The hot air balloon was to remain tethered and take passengers up and then bring them back down. The hot air balloon was to remain tethered to the ground the entire time.
A huge gust of wind suddenly came and caused the hot air balloon to be forced off to the other side. It released the tether. When the tether became released it got entangled around the 5-year-old girl’s foot. The hot air balloon continued to rise as the young girl as dangling off of the formerly tethered rope. It was definitely a scary death for the poor young girl.
7. Myanmar Fireworks Crash
At the Myanmar Festival the plan was to simply let a paper hot air balloon go up into the air by itself that was loaded with fireworks. It would have been a good idea except it did not work. The balloon crashed down by the huge crowd of people and caught fire.
Apparently these people did not worry about safety too much, because they attempted to do it with another balloon. Around 10,000 people were there watching the balloon fly into the air. Unfortunately the balloon did not go high enough and the fireworks started showing out over the crowd.
Although many people were running, you can also witness people still cheering and looking upwards at it.
8. 2007 South Surrey, British Columbia, Balloon Crash
The 2007 Surrey Balloon crash killed 2 people an injured 11. It was caught on video tape plunging to the earth on fire.
9. Richard Pollard Death
In 1964 a hot air balloon race was canceled because the conditions were considered too dangerous to race the hot air balloons in. The venue was changed to a new location. Richard Pollard was the reigning champion. Pollard’s hot air balloon lost control and hit some electrical transmission lines. As he hit the ground he was on fire. Some nearby golfers ran to extinguish the flames that had engulfed him. On the way to the hospital Pollard died.
10. The Michigan Hooky-Bobber
A stuntman had gone up in a hot air balloon. He was going to parachute out over the huge crowd that had gathered for the 4th of July festivities. When he got 2,000 feet up, he prepared for his stunt, but then noticed someone holding on to the rope hanging off of the hot air balloon.
He yelled at the guy to ask him how he got there and the gentleman explained that the rope got tangled up on him when the hot air balloon suddenly took off. The stunt man yelled at him to wrap some rope around him and he would get him down. The guy hanging from the rope was told it would take about 15 minutes. The man dangling precariously said that was too long. A few moments later he lost his grip and plunged to his death.
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