Saturday, January 07, 2012

A pilot's worst nightmare: Crash of the Cameron A-210 hot air balloon in Wairarapa, New Zealand

The hot air balloon that crashed in flames, killing 11 people on New Zealand's North Island, was flown by an experienced pilot.

NEW ZEALAND'S hot air balloon pilots were in shock last night as they struggled to come to terms with the loss of one of the characters of their close-knit community.

''I had just landed when someone rang me. It hit me like a sledgehammer,'' Mark Brown of the Kiwi Balloon Company said.

Mr Brown said power lines were every balloonist's worst nightmare.

''You don't want to go anywhere near them because that'll kill you.

If power lines hit together they'll spark and there's a big flash of light, it can ignite any fuel that's leaking.''

Fellow balloonist Dennis Hall said the community was ''gobsmacked'' by the disaster.

''I've seen him [Lance Hopping] flying that great big balloon in competitions and he's been hard to beat, a very skilful pilot.''

Tony Wall

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