Balloon Accident Kills 11, One Of New Zealand’s Deadliest Air Accidents In History


  Bookmark and Share

Balloon Accident Kills 11, One Of New Zealand’s Deadliest Air Accidents In History

By Shane Nolan

January 8, 2012 - A Cameron A-210 hot air balloon operated by Early Morning Balloons carrying 11 people crashed into power lines and then caught fire killing all onboard on Saturday in a rural town of Clareville near the township of Carterton, New Zealand. This was New Zealand’s deadliest air crash in nearly 50 years. 

It appears that the pilot, Lance Hopping may have been caught in a downdraft that forced the balloon onto power lines. The pilot was able to eventually raise the balloon above the power lines. It is not clear if the power lines began to arc setting the balloon on fire.  

The pilot and passengers took off at 6:40 AM from Carterton on a 45-minute scenic flight over the Carterton area. Hopping was one of New Zealand's most experienced balloon pilots, with more than 10,000 hours experience. The 10 passengers were all from the greater Wellington area: two husband and wife couples from Masterton and Wellington, two couples from Lower Hutt and Wellington, and two cousins from Masterton and Paraparaumu. 

Witnesses reported the balloon climbed to about 500 feet then 30 foot flames began rising from the balloon's basket before it plummeted to the ground. Two of the passengers onboard jumped from the burning basket however they did not survive their fall. It was reported that many of the passengers were badly burned. 

One witness said, "I saw it then go straight up in the air and the flames just engulfed the whole balloon and it crashed to the ground. When it came down it came down really quickly." Hopping was a commercial balloon pilot operating out of Carterton. Known as ‘Hoppy’ he was well liked within the ballooning community and was the safety officer for the annual Balloons Over Wairarapa event. Hopping would take up tourists and locals every morning at dawn, and he was considered an experienced and safety conscious pilot. 

New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) is investigating Clareville's ballooning accident. TAIC has opened an inquiry into fatal ballooning accident. An investigation team has been assembled and has been out to the crash site. The TAIC conducts safety focused investigations with the aim of being able to explain the cause of an accident, so that lessons and recommendations can be drawn in order to help reduce the likelihood of a similar event in the future. 

The balloon operator, Early Morning Balloons, is a family owned and operated business since 1992 and is located in Hastings, New Zealand. The company has an excellent reputation with both customers, the Civil Aviation Authority, and within the Tourism Industry.


Early Morning Balloons released a statement Saturday afternoon, “There has been a tragic accident involving the company. This tragedy will affect many families and our thoughts and sympathy lie with the families and friends of the passengers and pilot whose lives have been tragically ended. Our hearts go out to those affected by this tragedy." 

The crash was the deadliest air disaster to occur in mainland New Zealand since the July 1963 crash of New Zealand National Airways Corporation Flight 441 in the Kaimai Ranges, and the deadliest crash involving a New Zealand aircraft since the November 1979 crash of Air New Zealand Flight 901 into Antarctica's Mount Erebus. It was also the second-deadliest hot air balloon disaster on record after a 1989 balloon crash in Australia that killed 13 people. 

The balloon manufactured by Camerson was a Cameron A-210, registered ZK-XXF and named Mr. Big. The balloon was purchased by Early Morning Balloons, Ltd in 2000 and the balloon was outfitted to carry ten passengers and its pilot.

Other News Stories
(For the latest news please checkout our home page)








blog comments powered by Disqus  
Home Aviation News Aviation Stories Of Interest FAA Exam Upcoming Events Links To Other Sites General Aviation Helicopters Medical Factors Facing Pilots
Maintenance and Aircraft Mechanics Hot Air Balloon Aviation Training Handbooks Read Online Aviation History Legal Issues In Aviation Sea Planes Editorials
 ©AvStop Online Magazine                                                                 Contact Us                                                  Return To News                                          Bookmark and Share


AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator