Indiana hot air balloon strikes live power lines, leaves three injured - Hindustan Times
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Indiana hot air balloon strikes live power lines, leaves three injured

Jun 05, 2024 11:11 AM IST

A pilot and two passengers were suffering from burn injuries after a hot air balloon struck power lines in Indiana.

Local officials stated on Tuesday a hot air balloon accident occurred over the weekend in northwestern Indiana where the pilot and two passengers had been badly injured while trying to navigate through the power lines; the balloon touched the lines before falling on the ground.

This photo provided by Debbie Wajvoda shows a hot air balloon crashing after hitting a utility pole on Sunday, June 2, 2024 east of Lowell, Ind. Federal investigators are probing the crash in northwestern Indiana that injured three people. Firefighters responded to the crash and found the balloon in a bean field. (Debbie Wajvoda via AP)(AP)
This photo provided by Debbie Wajvoda shows a hot air balloon crashing after hitting a utility pole on Sunday, June 2, 2024 east of Lowell, Ind. Federal investigators are probing the crash in northwestern Indiana that injured three people. Firefighters responded to the crash and found the balloon in a bean field. (Debbie Wajvoda via AP)(AP)

The FAA said in a statement that the Lindstrand hot air balloon “crashed after striking power lines.”

The FAA report on the incident indicates that the balloon crashed with power lines in Hebron City, Indiana, 56 miles or 90km southeast of Chicago, on Sunday evening.

Viral footage of the hot air balloon shows a bright illumination as the balloon goes above the wires.

The balloon ultimately crashed around 7 p.m. in a field roughly 13 miles (21 kilometers) southeast of Hebron, as reported by the Lowell Fire Department. At the scene, rescue personnel found the injured passengers and pilot inside the balloon's basket.

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“There was evidence on the passenger basket that electrical current passed from the power lines to the basket and injured the three people in the basket,” the fired department posted on social media.

The two passengers were airlifted to hospitals in Chicago “due to the severe extent of the burn injuries” while the pilot was transported to a nearby hospital in Crown Point, Indiana.

As of now, their names and conditions remain undisclosed.

FAA and NTSB are jointly investigating the mishap

The FAA has labeled the information as preliminary and confirmed that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is spearheading an investigation into the incident.

NTSB said they recovered the hot air balloon for “further examination”.

“During the on-scene phase of the investigative process, the NTSB does not determine or speculate about the cause of the accident,” the agency further stated.

Patrick Cannon, president of the Balloon Federation of America, emphasized that balloon pilots are well-versed in the risks associated with power lines due to the nature of balloon operations and landing locations and pilots undergo extensive training and are permitted to fly below 500 feet (152 meters) as long as they maintain a safe distance of at least 500 feet from people, structures, animals, and other obstacles.

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“They deal with power lines all the time and go through a lot of training," Cannon affirmed.

“Power lines can be very difficult to see from the air because they blend in with the terrain.”

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