Seeing the sky dotted with hot air balloons almost always inspires those of us on the ground below. Those of us who have had the privilege of going up in a balloon will rarely find anywhere else so quiet with such awe-inspiring views anywhere else. As beautiful as they are, going up in a hot air balloon isn’t without some risks. Although hot air balloon accidents rarely end in fatality, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports that since 1964, there have been a total of 775 hot air balloon incidents in the US.
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The Miami Herald recently reported a hot air ballooning accident in Napa County that happened on Sunday, March 31st. A botched landing caused the massive balloon to crash into a powerline, requiring one person to be airlifted to the hospital at UC Davis in critical condition. Two additional people were also taken to Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa via ambulance for treatment after the accident. Injuries are described as electrical burns.
According to California Fire Captain Aaron Loscar, the accident occurred near Yountville; the massive 20 passenger balloon landed safely in a vineyard after hitting the powerline. No other passengers or crew were harmed.
Pacific Gas and Electric said that when the balloon hit the utility line, it also resulted in a downed power line, a broken pole, and interrupted electrical service to several agricultural pumps in the area. At the time of the report, crews had been dispatched to deal with the outage.
The accident is still currently under investigation by local and federal aviation agencies. Henry Wofford, the spokesperson for the Napa County Sheriff’s Department, said in a statement that federal aviation regulators would be alerted to the incident.