Friday, August 31, 2007

Mike Howard Paraglider attempt Ashton Court 2007

Very interesting video here..

Sorry that I was not there to see that

Pilot meets survivor of B.C. hot air balloon crash

Last Updated: Thursday, August 30, 2007 | 3:23 PM PT
CBC News
A survivor of a recent fatal hot air balloon crash in Surrey, B.C., met with the pilot on Wednesday and now says she understands why he was unable to help some of the passengers.

Diana Rutledge, who is recovering in the hospital from her injuries, had been critical of Stephen Pennock, the pilot at the helm of the balloon and owner of Fantasy Balloon Charters.

After talking to Pennock, Rutledge said she understood why the pilot couldn't help passengers in the gondola when it caught fire.

Pennock told her he was blown out of the gondola when it exploded, and couldn't get back because of the flames, Rutledge said.

Two passengers, a 49-year-old mother and her 21-year-old daughter, died and 11 others were injured when a fire erupted just before the balloon was to take off Friday. The blazing balloon and gondola then crashed into an RV park.

Rutledge said she is pleased that Pennock paid her a visit but added that she will still pursue legal action if she is not compensated for lost work.

"I need to be compensated because I need to live," she told CBC News Wednesday. Rutledge holds down two jobs as a bartender but doctors told her it will be months before she can put weight on her feet, she said.

Also on Wednesday, Pennock visited the RV park in south Surrey where the flaming balloon landed, destroying several mobile homes and vehicles. No one was hurt at the park. He also paid his respects at a makeshift memorial for the two women killed.

(With files from the Canadian Press)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

3d tracking

I have been exerimenting with a very cool method of tracking balloons, or anything come to that.

Works very well. Just use your cellphone, bluetooth gps and GPRS

Best of all its free. Heres yesterday mornings flight.

Great Southeast BalloonFest

More than a bunch of hot air

Published: Thursday, August 30, 2007

It's been only a year since Anderson County had to say goodbye to the Pontiac/GMC Freedom Weekend Aloft festival. For eight years, that event was a Memorial Day mainstay for the city and for the Anderson Sports and Entertainment Center.

But when it left, county officials didn't lick their wounds. Instead, they took eight months and put together a bigger - and, hopefully, better - balloon festival.

The result is the Great Southeast BalloonFest, which will kick off for the first time on Friday.

For three days, the Great Southeast BalloonFest will feature nationally recognized entertainment, dozens of children's activities, beer and wine tastings, beach music, pep rallies, hot dog and wing-eating contests, a soccer tournament and, of course, dozens upon dozens of hot-air balloons taking to the sky all weekend long.

"I would say (the festival) has certainly exceeded expectations," said Carey Jones, executive director of BalloonFest, "but I wouldn't say I'm surprised by that."

Surprised? No. Excited? Oh, yeah!

In its first year, the BalloonFest will have more than 70 balloonists competing and providing balloon rides throughout the weekend. That's more than most organizers expected for a first-year ballooning event. But Anderson has a reputation as a great venue for ballooning, thanks to eight years of Freedom Weekend and five years of hosting Balloon Federation of America competitions.

Listing all of the activities scheduled for this weekend would be next to impossible. That's what schedules of events are for. (See below.) Suffice it to say, ticket outlet phones have been ringing off the hook for the concerts, from Bucky Covington and Morris Day and the Time to the Big Boy Toy Show car and boat show to the beach music events and fireworks.

One thing we won't see at BalloonFest, however, is a midway. Charles Wyatt, executive director of the Anderson Sports and Entertainment Center, said the days of carnival rides in the parking lot are over.

"We already have a fair that caters to that need, and it's coming up in October," he said. "We didn't want to step on any toes over there, and I think the event (BalloonFest) will be better for it."

With so much to do, the only problem might be overstimulation. In addition to BalloonFest, the Upstate will also host AnMed's Midnight Flight on Friday, plus a full calendar of activities at Clemson University, coinciding with the Clemson vs. Florida State football game on Monday night.

Jones said not to worry about it.

"It all works together," he said. "If you buy a ticket to our BeachFest on Saturday, you get $2 off a ticket to the Tiger Shag in Clemson, and vice versa. Plus, we are doing a Clemson and Florida State pep rally and having balloons flying at midnight."

And it's all being accomplished because Anderson runs the show now. BalloonFest is owned by Anderson and relies on Anderson supporters

ummmmm...... you would struggle to buy tickets for a Tiger Shag in UK, another one of those cultural diferences.

Air Balloon Industry in shock.

Air balloon industry in shock over B.C. crash that killed two, injured 11

Air balloon industry in shock over B.C. crash that killed two, injured 11
Mon, 2007-08-27 22:18.


VICTORIA (CP) - Operators of hot air balloons say they're shocked by the crash of a balloon that killed two people and injured 11 others in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey.

The flame-engulfed hot air balloon plummeted into a British Columbia trailer park, killing a woman and her daughter. "Without knowing exactly what happened, the circumstances and all those things around it, it's very difficult for us to understand why this may have occurred," Graham Rowlinson, a hot-air balloon pilot and spokesman for an Ontario company, said Monday.

Like people around the world, those in the hot-air ballooning community have seen the horrific video of the crash and they're stunned. "What we've seen on the news, obviously, those pictures are not very nice," said Rowlinson.

"They've been very shocking to everybody in the industry."

Rowlinson, who has 30 years experience as a pilot flying fixed-wing aircraft and hot-air balloons, said the industry actually has a very good safety record.

He estimated there have been about five hot-air balloon related deaths in Canada in the past 40 years.

After 14 years operating Skyward Balloons in Cambridge, Ont., Rowlinson said his company has a good safety record.

Fantasy Balloons, the Surrey company involved in the crash, has suspended its operations pending investigations into the cause of the crash.

Transportation Safety Board investigators plan to interview Stephen Pennock, the pilot of the ill-fated hot air balloon.

But board aviation expert Bill Yearwood said the pilot on Monday "wasn't feeling up to joining us to carry out an investigative interview."

Balloon accident investigations are not common in Canada, he said.

Friday's crash will become the third major hot air balloon investigation conducted by the TSB, including a crash two weeks ago in a farmer's field near Winnipeg and another accident in 2001 in the Ottawa area that killed a 15-year-old girl.

The board will try to determine how a fire broke out in the balloon's gondola before it plunged into a trailer park, incinerating three recreation vehicles.

The crash killed mother and daughter Shannon and Gemma Knackstedt of Langley, said Shannon's sister, Camellia Rogers.

They were on the balloon ride with Shannon's husband and their other daughter, Justine, who remains in hospital.

The family was celebrating Justine's birthday last Thursday and Shannon's 50th on Aug. 29.

Surrey RCMP said they will not confirm the names of the mother and daughter after the family requested privacy to grieve.

An RCMP news release shortly after the crash said some family members on the ground witnessed a troubled takeoff and saw the tragedy unfold. Other witnesses said passengers jumped from the flaming gondola.

A spokesman for the Fraser Health Authority said Monday two people were treated for fractures suffered after they jumped from the balloon and two others were being treated for burns.

TSB spokesman John Cottreau said it's too early to estimate when the investigation would be complete.

He added that board investigations do not lay blame or assign fault but will make public lessons to prevent future similar incidents.

The balloon that crashed was the largest of its kind in western Canada.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Popping Sound

'Popping sound' heard before deadly hot air balloon accident: pilot
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 29, 2007 | 9:21 AM PT
CBC News

The pilot involved in a deadly hot air balloon crash in Surrey, B.C., was aware of a "popping sound" from the balloon before its launch, a spokesman for the balloon company said on Tuesday.

A propane tank with the bottom missing sits among wreckage in a Transportation Safety Board garage in Richmond, B.C.

John Kageorge, of Fantasy Balloon Charters, said pilot Stephen Pennock is curious to find out why there was such a sound and whether it contributed to the accident last Friday. A fireball erupted in the balloon's gondola, causing its tethers to snap and allowing the balloon to rise into the air before all of the passengers could get out. The blazing balloon then crashed into an RV park, killing two people and injuring 11 others.

"Prior to the launch of the balloon, the pilot reports a popping sound," Kageorge told CBC News on Tuesday. "That is really the focus of his curiosity to see if that popping sound might be related to this sudden fireball that first surrounded him."

The Transportation Safety Board had its first meeting with Pennock on Tuesday, but he hasn't discussed the specifics of the crash with investigators, Kageorge said.

Continue Article

He said hot air balloon accidents are so rare that investigators looking at the crash are learning the basics of hot air ballooning before the investigation can really begin.

"The Transportation Safety Board has asked that we start at square one, so today's discussion really was focused on hot air ballooning itself," Kageorge said.

Wreckage from the balloon accident is being examined by the Transportation Safety Board.

Kageorge said the TSB hasn't asked why Pennock got out of the balloon before the passengers, a fact that some members of the public have questioned. Kageorge said the balloon had five compartments and a separate cockpit for the pilot so Pennock couldn't have helped passengers if he had stayed in his compartment.

Shannon Knackstedt, 49, and her 21-year-old daughter, Gemma, both from Langley, B.C., died in the accident.

'It's no fault of his': pilot defended
Bob Daws, who has known Pennock for 16 years and worked with him for a time in 1998, defended the pilot amid talk of a lawsuit from at least one survivor.

Daws said Wednesday that Pennock is a perfectionist, who did everything by the books.

"I know his procedure and whatever and how he takes off and everything like that and this is nothing but a damn accident and something," Daws said.

"Whatever it was, and the inspectors, the people, they'll find out and I'm positive that it's no fault of his."


Pilot of burning balloon charged 22 years ago Sunny Freeman, CanWest News Service; Vancouver Sun
Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2007

VANCOUVER - The pilot of a hot-air balloon that mysteriously caught fire Friday, killing a mother and daughter, faced three counts of reckless endangerment in a 1985 - believed to be the first charges involving hot-air ballooning in Canada.

The accident happened in Surrey, B.C., about 45 kilometres southeast of Vancouver.

Steve Pennock was initially convicted of two counts and fined $750 under the Aeronautics Act after a precarious flight in September 1985. But an appeal court later overturned his convictions.

During the flight, court documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show several passengers were frightened when the balloon dipped into a lake near Victoria, instead of landing in a nearby field.

Later in the flight, the balloon lifted a 12-year old boy 20 metres in the air after taking off while the boy was clinging to a rope holding the balloon to the ground.

"The flight was alleged to have been operated in such a negligent or reckless manner as to endanger or be likely to endanger the life or property of the passengers," according to the court documents.

Pennock was convicted of two counts - the ones related to dipping into the lake and taking off with the boy in tow - in 1987.

But the County Court of Vancouver Island overturned the convictions later in 1987. The judge wrote there was insufficient evidence to determine whether Pennock was "reckless or negligent to a degree deserving of punishment."

Pennock has been the owner and chief pilot of Fantasy Balloon Charters in Langley for 16 years. He piloted the 12-passenger balloon that slammed into two homes in the Hazelmere RV and Campground in south Surrey.

Pennock escaped with first-degree burns to his arm after jumping from the flame-engulfed balloon that killed a mother and daughter, Shannon and Gemma Knackstedt, of Langley, B.C.

Doreen Knackstedt confirmed Monday that her daughter in-law and granddaughter died in the blaze.

Eleven others were sent to hospital after the balloon crash around Friday evening.

Monte Aguilar, whose mother, Diana Rutledge, broke bones in her feet when she jumped from a height of five storeys from the burning balloon, criticized the pilot's actions.

"It doesn't make sense to me that the guy got out first. . . . The lighter the basket, the faster it goes up," Aguilar said Sunday.

Pennock could not be reached Monday, but John Kageorge, a balloon crew member and employee of Fantasy Balloon Charters, said Pennock was helpless in Friday night's crash.

"He was in a ball of fire at the centre of the cockpit," Kageorge said.

No charges have been laid in the crash. The Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Vancouver Sun

Canadian Pilots response.

CanWest News Service
VANCOUVER • The pilot of a fiery hot-air balloon that crashed in a B.C. field, killing two women, said he is “shaken to the core” by the incident.

Steve Pennock said yesterday he is still recovering from the shock of the hot-air balloon exploding in his face as he prepared to launch it from the Hazelmere RV and Campsite in South Surry on Saturday night.

Canadian Balloon Accident


Hot-air balloon pilot's record comes under scrutiny

August 28, 2007

VANCOUVER -- The pilot of the hot-air balloon that burst into flames on the weekend killing two passengers was convicted of reckless endangerment two decades ago in another perilous ballooning incident.

Even so, his company's website says that he has a perfect flight record and has personally flown 25,000 passengers without incident.

Steven Pennock was fined $250 for endangering the lives of his passengers after the gondola of a balloon he was piloting dipped into Elk Lake on Vancouver Island on Sept. 28, 1985.

During the same flight, a 12-year-old boy - who was not a passenger or crew member - grabbed a rope hanging from the balloon and was suspended 20 metres above the ground.

Mr. Pennock was fined $500 in that incident, on a second charge of reckless endangerment.

His 1987 conviction on the two counts was overturned on appeal.

No fine was paid after the conviction, with an upper court ruling that Mr. Pennock was forced to prove his innocence at trial, when the Crown should have had the onus to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The incident is not mentioned on the website of Fantasy Balloon Charters, which details Mr. Pennock's safety history.

The website includes a reference that he has a "perfect flight record" after 21 years of commercial flying, and that he has "personally flown in excess of 25,000 clients for the company without incident, an achievement which is unparalleled by any other balloonists in British Columbia."

The pilot was not available for comment yesterday, but the spokesman for Fantasy Balloon, John Kageorge, said it is perfectly correct to say that Mr. Pennock has a perfect flight record, noting that his conviction did not stand and he has not been censured by any regulatory authorities.

"Everything was dropped," Mr. Kageorge said.

However, Mr. Kageorge said that the statement that Mr. Pennock has flown "without incident" may not be accurate, given that a 12-year-old boy was suspended in mid-air from a balloon he was piloting.

"That's a good point. Quite clearly, there was a situation where a stranger, a passerby, grabbed a rope. I suppose we could say that in 24 years of carrying passengers, there have been no accidents and there's been one incident of a stranger passing by grabbing a rope."

Allan Vandekerkhove watched the balloon briefly touch down on his farm north of Victoria, and saw the boy run to grab onto the balloon.

He said in an interview yesterday that he still recalls the event as a terrifying moment. "He hung on for dear life," the 71-year-old said, adding that the boy was pulled inside the gondola before it landed.

As for the gondola hitting water on Elk Lake, Mr. Kageorge characterized that as a "skim-and-go" and a "pretty common occurrence," in which a pilot moves up and down to turn to the left or right.

The ability to execute such a move demonstrates skill, he said, although he later added that Mr. Pennock had intended to perform the manoeuvre in a field beside the lake.

Such a move is not prohibited by any regulation, he noted. "There was no safety violation on the part of the pilot."

Mr. Kageorge also said that there are no parallels between the 1985 incident and the accident on Friday evening, in which a hot-air balloon that Mr. Pennock was piloting caught fire, burned free of its tether and then soared into the sky, blowing apart as its propane tanks caught fire.

A mother and daughter, Shannon and Jemma Knackstedt, died in the accident, and four other people were sent to hospital with serious injuries.

Mr. Kageorge said Mr. Pennock was also injured, although he is no longer in hospital.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More on the Surry accident

Tue, August 28, 2007

Barry McGonigle of Belmont-based Sundance Balloons says safety is always a top priority.


When a hot-air balloon went down in flames in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey last Friday, Barry McGonigle got the news first and it hit hard.

One of his own Sundance balloons was in the air nearby at the time.

The horrified Sundance pilot saw the fatal accident and called McGonigle immediately on a cellphone.

McGonigle and his wife, Judy, then watched the television coverage back in London.

"It unfolded before my eyes just like 9/11 when the jets went into the towers. It was just a horrendous night for us," said McGonigle, president of Belmont-based Sundance Balloons, the largest hot-air balloon business in North America.

A fire broke out in the balloon's gondola before it plummeted into a trailer park, destroying several mobile homes. Shannon Knacksted and her daughter, Gemma, of Langley, B.C., were killed.

And although the tragedy involved a rival company, McGonigle said it has tarnished the reputation of the entire industry and comes just two weeks after the worst accident in Sundance's 25-year history.

A Sundance balloon flying near Winnipeg made a hard landing, injuring 11 passengers. The pilot and a passenger suffered the most serious injuries from the balloon's propane burner.

McGonigle believes the passenger involved in the Winnipeg accident has been released from hospital, but the pilot is still facing weeks of treatment for his burns.

Both the Vancouver and the Winnipeg accidents are being investigated by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

Earlier this year, a London woman was killed when she fell from a hot air balloon in California.

Sundance Balloons operates 2,500 to 3,000 recreational flights in 14 Canadian centres and carries about 12,000 passengers a year.

The company also manufactures balloons, but did not make the balloons involved in either the Vancouver or Winnipeg accidents.

Sundance has suspended its own flights in Vancouver since the accident as a sign of respect for the victims.

Footage of the plunging, fiery balloon in Vancouver was shown repeatedly on cable networks. McGonigle was interviewed by NBC news following the Vancouver accident and explained the strict safety rules governing the industry.

"All we can tell people is we live our lives by safety. But we are concerned this will scare some people away," said McGonigle, noting the design and manufacture of hot-air balloons is tightly regulated and accidents are rare.

McGonigle said he has not noticed any significant decline in bookings since the accidents but said the situation has been complicated by poor weather, which normally puts a damper on business.

"It's too early to tell."

Good example of why not to comment...

Well, I have not added a comment about the accident because, I was not there, don't know the systems involved or the weather.

However Mark Roberson was probably rung by his local station and asked for comment, you have to be very careful when asked such things, rather say nothing at all then let journos add extra to your comments.

A hot air balloon caught fire Friday near the U.S. border in British Columbia.

A hot air balloon burst into flames before taking off on Friday, but the fire caused the basket to break loose and start floating, which forced the passengers to jump for their lives.

Both passengers, a mother and daughter, died in the accident.

Mark Roberson is the operator of Orlando Balloon Rides, the largest ballooning operation on the eastern seaboard.

As a long-time hot air balloon pilot, Roberson said one of the keys to the safety of hot air ballooning is its simplicity.

"The systems are so simple, you have the fuel tank, the burner and a hose leading up to the burner. Those are all the moving parts," Roberson said.

He said the most important moving part is the hot air balloon pilot.

After reviewing tape of the Canada accident, Roberson, who also serves as a pilot trainer for the FAA, said an improperly disconnected propane hose may have started the fire.

"The equipment doesn't malfunction. It has to have the human error," Roberson said.

Canadian authorities have not yet concluded what caused the tragedy.

Roberson said that he and other pilots will study results of the investigation to make sure it doesn't happen elsewhere.

He calls this type of tragedy extremely rare.

"In all reality, the reason they're such news items is they rarely ever happen," Roberson said.

Experts said there hasn’t been a fatal balloon accident in the Orlando area in more than 20 years

Crash Videos

They speak for themselves.

Be careful out there, and I don't mean that in a flippant way.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Canadian accident

Another sad accident in Canada, I will not add any more to the newspaper reports that are below, follow the links to see pictures. It started hitting the news late last night here in the UK.
The BBC were showing footage of the aftermath.
As ever it goes without saying, be careful out there.

Flames consume motor homes at the Hazelmere RV trailer park after a hot air balloon whose basket was engulfed in flames crashed into it shortly after takeoff in Surrey British Colombia Canada Friday evening. (AP photo/Don Randall SURREY, B.C. — As a hot-air balloon burst into flames and plummeted into an RV park, killing two people, a horrific scene of chaos and a raging inferno ensued, witnesses said. “I saw the balloon coming down on the front of the trailer and when it hit, it exploded,” said Karen Ashby.
“There were flames and fire, people running. Everybody was in a panic. It was a shock. It was like a war zone here.”
Family members of the two victims were among those who stood powerless on the ground Friday evening, watching as the flaming balloon crashed directly into a trailer.
Sgt. Roger Morrow of Surrey RCMP said the victims will not be identified until at least early next week to give the family a chance to recover from the shock of what they witnessed.
Eleven people were taken by ground and air ambulances to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
Three trailers were destroyed, but luckily about seven people in the trailers got out safely, said Ralph Zandergen, the owner of Hazelmere Trailer Park.
There is little left of the three trailers now, said Zandergen, and the one in the middle that was directly hit is just a pile of ashes and a few propane tanks.
Mike Braden, 48, a resident of the RV park, said he looked out his window to see the balloon and its basket in flames.
“The basket broke and it dropped on the trailer and beside the truck,” he said.
“It was totally engulfed in flames. (After it crashed), tires were blowing and a few propane tanks went off and it was just an inferno.”
One day later the smell of burnt plastic and smoke still permeates the area and puddles of plastic dot the ground.
Ashby, 50, held back tears while she explained how she watched the coroner sift through the blackened wreckage.
“They found the bodies in here,” she said. “I watched them take them out.”
Though the scene of destruction has Ashby shaken up, she defended the actions of the balloon pilot.
She said both her children and her husband have been up in a balloon with the same pilot.
She said he was very responsible and that “you couldn’t ask for a better person that flies that balloon.”
“That was a pure accident. Something malfunctioned. Something went wrong. That man would have never done anything if he would have thought there would be any harm to anybody.”
The Transportation Safety Board is investigating. Police say it’s premature to speculate on a cause.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - A hot air balloon burst into flames over western Canada, burning two passengers to death while their families looked on, police said Saturday. Other passengers leaped to the ground, some with their clothes in flames, witnesses said.Eleven people were seriously injured when the balloon crashed Friday evening in a recreational vehicle park in Surrey, British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver. There were 12 passengers and a pilot on board, police and witnesses said.Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Roger Morrow said relatives of the two passengers killed witnessed the fire. He declined to comment on reports that the dead were a mother and her grown daughter.«It's just tragic. They watched it unfold before their eyes,» Morrow said of the families. «The fatalities suffered from burns.The balloon caught fire as it prepared to launch, said Bill Yearwood, an investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.«The crew loaded 12 passengers and was preparing to launch when a fire erupted. The pilot asked the passengers to get out of the basket,» he said. «The balloon was tethered at the time, but then broke and came loose,» he added.«They were all trying to get out.After most of the passengers escaped, the balloon exploded in a fireball and shot up into the air. Shortly after, the burning balloon plunged to ground in the RV park, leaving a tail of thick black smoke in its wake.«I can't tell you what exactly happened when the balloon was loosened from the tether,» Yearwood said. «We will be talking to attending crew members and the pilot to find out.He said the pilot was in stable condition.«The thing went up about 400 feet (122 meters) in the air at which point it melted enough of the balloon _ it collapsed,» said Don Randall, a resident of the trailer park who took pictures of the scene. «The basket was basically a fireball. It just dropped like a stone,» he added.«I'm just thinking, 'Oh geez, I hope there's nobody in that thing. It's basically a burning death up there,»' he said.Smoke could be seen billowing from the crash site from miles (kilometers) away.Another resident, Karen Ashby, held back tears while she explained how she watched the coroner sift through the blackened wreckage.«They found the bodies in here,» Ashby said. «I watched them take them out.The cause of the accident was not immediately known. Weather conditions were clear at the time of the sunset flight.«People were screaming and trying to get out,» Frank Hersey said Friday night near a grassy field where several of the injured were being attended to by ambulance crews.
Perry Kendall said he saw what looked like something out of a movie.«It was horrifying,» said a shaken Kendall. «Just looking at people screaming and jumping out of there. Some of them, I think, had fire on their clothes. It was just awful.Witnesses also said propane tanks from the balloon shot off and landed on the Hazelmere RV park below, setting fire to three trailers and several vehicles. No one was reported hurt in those blazes.«We're exceptionally lucky that nobody in any of these three trailers or in the vehicles that were destroyed were caught in them,» Morrow said.The hot-air balloon, which CTV reported was operated by Fantasy Balloons Charters based in Langley, British Columbia, was one of several balloons in flight at the time.«The company deeply regrets this evening's incident and all injuries associated with it (and) inconvenience to those people being displaced,» said John K. George, a company spokesman.There was a similar accident earlier this month in the central Canadian province of Manitoba, Manitoba, where 12 people were injured.Associated Press writers Rob Gillies and Charmaine Noronha in Toronto contributed to this report.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


A little off topic, but not if your a balloon pilot in Africa. The third time I have heard of this happening and a reminder to parents who when on safari let there children run everywhere. Believe me I have been amazed at how dumb tourists are around wild animals. Sometimes I think that because animals are in camp they must be tame.

Although in this case it looks like the reserve has some problem Hyenas that are very habituated, I bet they have been fed from theh camp fire.

There was a court case when the boy was killed (see further down) no doubt there will be another

South Africa
Hyena drags girl, 8, from campfire
2007-8-23 07:29
Johannesburg - An eight-year-old girl of Clynton in Johannesburg will have to have reconstructive surgery after being attacked by a spotted hyena in a Botswana nature reserve.

Christin Chalwin-Milton was sleeping on a chair next to her tour group's campfire at Third Bridge camp, Moremi Naature Reserve, at about 21:00 last Thursday when the scavenger attacked her from behind, grabbing the left side of her head.

Ralph Chalwin-Milton, Christin's father, said on Wednesday at the Sandton Medi-Clinic where she's recuperating that at first he thought her chair was falling over and ran towards her.

When he saw she was being dragged off , he realised that a hyena had his child in its jaws.

Chalwin-Milton stormed at the animal shouting, and scared it off.

"I could see immediately that she was seriously injured," he said.

The hyena tore Christin's head open from her eye to behind her ear, and ripped her left ear off.

Chalwin Milton picked the ear up off the ground and put it on ice.

They tried to get hold of a helicopter to fly Christin to Maun, but didn't succeed.

Chalwin Milton then rushed her to hospital in his own 4x4 vehicle.

"She was on the front seat and a tour guide, Tshonolo Moje of Karibu Safari, sat behind me and showed me the way," he explained.

"About 40 km from Maun we met up with the ambulance and an emergency service worker also climbed into my vehicle and started treatment. The ambulance followed us all the way to Maun."

Christin was first treated at the state hospital in Maun against rabies and tetanus, and then transferred to the private hospital.

Chalwin-Milton says the family realises how lucky Christin really is.

"One doesn't easily survive being bitten by a hyena."

Christin's ear can be reconstructed but all her facial muscles and nerves, as well as her hearing and sight have been impaired.

Chalwin-Milton said in spite of the attack they were "still crazy about the Botswana bush".

"We know about the dangers of the bush. It was just a freak accident," Chalwin-Milton emphasised.

"People just have to realise that they must be very alert (in the bush).

"We're paranoid, alert parents and it still happened to us."

Safari operators in Botswana said they were very concerned that tourists were feeding wild animals in nature reserves. The camps at Moremi are not fenced.

"We feel it's a tragedy that people feed the wild animals, because the result is that the animals get too used to humans and have to be put down," Chalwin-Milton said.

A 12-year-old American boy was bitten to death in his tent by hyenas in the same nature reserve in 2000.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

From totally awsume Aunty Monkey, fully.

Well I can't blame Andrew for this but he found it, top job.....

You should probably send this to any potential customer.

Northampton Press Exposure

I think if I was flying a sponsored balloon at Northampton I would be a little disapointed with the media coverage it received, from what I look at it seems Bristol beat them hands down.

I guess the weather is the great decider in these situations.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Balloon Video

I keep adding all the accidents and incidents to remind me that I have to be careful.

Anything can happen to any pilot, however many hours we might have.

I find the way these are described as, "funny movies", rather interesting.

We all know ballooning is the safest form of flying but be careful out there.

You have to ask what the dude is doing riding up with the inflating basket but anyway I still love the way the Google ads relate to mayhem and disaster if you fill your blog with woe.

Might even experiment with seeing what it takes to change the ads, so beware.

Hot Air Balloon Accident - A funny movie is a click away

And again

Oh simplified version...

Can You Help Me?

A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts:
‘Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?’
The man below says: ‘Yes. You’re in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet above this field.’
‘You must work in Information Technology’ says the balloonist.
‘I do’ replies the man. ‘How did you know?’
‘Well’ says the balloonist, ‘Everything you have told me is technically correct, but it’s no use to anyone.’
The man below says, ‘You must work in business.’
‘I do’ replies the balloonist, ‘but how did you know?’
‘Well, ‘ says the man, ‘You don’t know where you are, or where you’re going, but you expect me to be able to help. You’re in the same position you were before we met, but now it’s my fault.’

That Joke

This Joke seems to come out of hiding every three months or so, can there be such a thing as a good IT joke though??

A Great IT Joke

I heard this joke today listening to the Boag World Podcast. (A great resource that you should really check out if you are involved in the web.

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and
spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me,
can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I
don’t know where I am.”

The woman below replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering
approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees
north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.”

“You must be in IT,” said the balloonist. “I am,” replied the woman,
“How did you know?”

“Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is, technically
correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact
is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything,
you’ve delayed my trip.”

The woman below responded, “You must be in Management.” “I am,” replied
the balloonist, “but how did you know?”

“Well,” said the woman, “you don’t know where you are or where you’re
going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air.

You made a promise which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people
beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same
position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.”

Found it here this time

Basket fall out entanglement.

Hot-air balloon accident investigated

16 August 2007

A hot air balloon pilot fell 30 feet to the ground after his leg got tangled in a rope as he tried to land on a windy evening, an air accident report revealed.

The 43-year-old - who spent six weeks in hospital being treated for serious injuries - was flying with two passengers at Wood Dalling, near Dereham, last September, when the accident happened.

The Air Accident Investigation Bureau report said the pilot - who has not been named - was thrown from the basket and run over by the balloon as he landed it in “relatively strong” winds after an hour-long flight.

His leg became entangled in the balloon parachute ripline and as the balloon became airborne again, he was carried into the air, hanging below the basket.

The report said that at about 30 feet up the line unravelled itself and he fell to the ground.

The balloon descended with the two passengers pulling on the ripline and then landed.

One of the passengers needed treatment for a hand injury.

The pilot had 54 hours flying experience, 46 of which were in that type of balloon - a Cameron N-90 with four twin burners. (Er I don't think so)

The report said the flight was taken after the weather conditions had been checked and he was familiar with launching from the site.

In the light of the accident, safety guidance has been issued urging all pilots to wear safety harnesses in balloons.

How many pilots do wear harness?? Its mandatory for UK based ride pilots and would have saved Chris Marshal in Kenya a couple of years ago. What happens in the USA?? Mind they dont seem to have any regs ;-)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Its the Joke!!!

Log time since I've seen it.

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 2346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.”

She rolled her eyes and said, “You must be a Conservative.”

“I am,” replied the man. “How did you know?”

“Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to do with your information, and I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help to me.”

The man smiled and responded, “You must be a Liberal.”
“I am,” replied the balloonist. “How did you know?”

“Well,” said the man, “you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You’ve risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You’re in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but, somehow, now it’s my fault.”

Northampton Balloon Meet 1#

Here it is first one I've seen...

Not content with building quality new homes, Redrow is taking a dip into aviation and offering new home buyers the chance to join the fun. To celebrate the fact that Redrow’s very own hot air balloon will be appearing at this year’s Northampton Balloon Festival on August 17-19.

Buyers who reserve a home at one of three Redrow developments between the start of the festival and the end of August will be able to enjoy a complimentary hot air balloon ride for two people when they legally complete.

Heather Jackson, area sales manager for Redrow Homes (South Midlands) says: “This great offer is available at Oakley Vale in Corby, The Grange in Desborough and Bletchley Park in Bletchley. We have a wide variety of fantastic homes at these developments and with this added incentive I think home buyers will find it hard to turn us down.”

The three developments showcase some of the very best homes that Redrow has to offer in the South Midlands.

Bletchley Park is the house builder’s brand new scheme, offering 136 new homes, featuring primarily one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments plus some three-bedroom townhouses, situated in a convenient position on Sherwood Drive, opposite Bletchley train station - perfect for commuters, locals and those with an eye for investment.

First to be available will be the apartments, which are designed in two rectangular buildings, each around a central landscaped courtyard.

In Desborough, Redrow at The Grange is riding high in the popularity ratings, as a desirable yet affordable alternative to Market Harborough. A flurry of buyers have recently crossed the threshold into a new home at The Grange, which offers a variety of one- to five-bedroom homes within walking distance of the town centre.

There are many shops and places to eat in the local area, and The Grange is not far from local cinemas and museums. Desborough’s facilities are also just a short walk away from beautiful Northamptonshire countryside.

Meanwhile over in Corby, Redrow at Oakley Vale is a 141-home venture featuring a collection of one-bedroom apartments and two, three, four and five-bedroom homes that hold appeal for people from all walks of life.

Redrow is one of several developers on this large scale regeneration development, which is set to comprise almost 3,000 new homes, and already features its own shopping precinct and primary schools as well as large areas of open spaces.

Redrow’s south midlands business has a variety of other current developments, including in Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire, St Neots and Ailsworth, near Peterborough, in Cambridgeshire, plus Rugby in Warwickshire.

For more information about Redrow’s bursting portfolio across the region and for your chance to earn a dream hot air balloon trip by reserving one of Redrow’s homes at Corby, Desborough or Bletchley, log onto

Humm maybe this is all about house sales not ballooning!!!

I wonder if its a CPL flying these people??

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Not first incident of its type

This ones is attracting lots of press and to be honest nothings being added to the story so unless something new happens I might not mention it again!


Balloon accident not first: city man
WINNIPEG (CNS) — A Saskatoon man is challenging a hot-air balloon company’s claims that it has never been in a crash similar to the one near Winnipeg on Saturday.

Doug Bates said his own experience with Sundance Balloons sounds familiar.

Bates and his wife, Shelley, were on a balloon ride near Saskatoon with six other passengers in June 2006 when their balloon crash-landed, tipped upside down and burst into flames. Bates said the fire engulfed the group and the pilot as they tumbled out of the basket.

More on Canadian Incident

Operator defends safety of hot-air balloon rides

Tue, August 14, 2007

A serious accident in Winnipeg should not taint the public's perception, he insists. deck


The head of a London hot air balloon company says a serious accident in Winnipeg on the weekend shouldn't taint the public's perception about the safety of the rides.

"We have worked hard to build our business and do it safely. When this happens it shakes you up hard," said Barry McGonigle, president of Sundance Balloons.

A Sundance balloon on a recreational flight made a hard landing in a farm field north of Winnipeg near the town of Selkirk Saturday morning.

Eleven of 12 people onboard were injured. Two men, ages 43 and 50, were taken to hospital in serious condition with burns but have been upgraded to stable.

Initial reports indicated the balloon's pilot put the craft down hard in a strong wind. Its basket overturned and burst into flames after dragging on the ground.

McGonigle said one of the critically injured men was the pilot. He had been with Sundance about 10 years.

The accident is being investigated by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB).

McGonigle said he flew to Winnipeg hours after the accident and met with the safety board investigators. He said the incident occurred toward the end of the regular recreational flight but he couldn't comment on the circumstances while the investigation continues.

"We want to find out what went wrong and if we can do something about it in the future, we will," he said.

Sundance suspended all balloon rides after the accident. The flights resumed elesewhere Sunday night, but not in Winnipeg.

The Winnipeg accident comes five months after a London Life executive was killed in a hot-air balloon crash in southern California.

Linda Dickson, 56, fell from the balloon's basket after it hit two power lines 16 to 25 metres above ground while trying to land in high winds.

McGonigle said hot-air balloon accidents are rare.

Sundance operates between 2,500 and 3,000 recreational flights from 14 centres across Canada.

McGonigle said the Winnipeg accident was by far the worst in the company's 25 year history. "We have never experienced anything like this. We have had hard landings, but nothing like this."

McGonigle said he was hopeful most people would not be scared off balloon rides.

"Thousands of people have flown in balloons with us and they know how wonderful it is. Some people will be put off but most people know how safe balloons are and will share that information."

Monday, August 13, 2007

More on the Canadian incident

Taken from

Balloon company grounds flights following crash
Updated Sun. Aug. 12 2007 8:46 PM ET

Canadian Press

WINNIPEG -- A hot air balloon company based in London, Ont., temporarily grounded its balloon flights across Canada on the weekend after one of its balloons, carrying a dozen passengers, crash-landed in a farmer's field north of Winnipeg Saturday.

Witnesses said the balloon bounced six times before the basket flipped upside down and burst into flames.

Two people were seriously injured in the incident and are now listed in stable condition in hospital.

Barry McGonigle, president of Sundance Balloons, which owns the balloon, said Sunday that he was shocked when he heard of the accident and thought someone was playing a prank on him.

"Balloon accidents don't happen often,'' he said in an interview Sunday.

"We've never experienced something like this, or the severity of this that we experienced Saturday,'' he said.

While refusing to comment on details of the accident, McGonigle said there have been some "inaccuracies'' in media reports about the incident.

He added it's up to federal transport officials to determine exactly what happened and provide details of the accident.

McGonigle said the pilot involved in the incident had been flying for the company for at least eight years and "is an exceptional pilot.''

"It's really hit us hard,'' McGonigle said.

The company, which offers hot air balloon flights in 14 locations across Canada, made the decision Saturday to temporarily ground all balloon flights.

"When we found out about it, we said `let's give it a day or two. Let's wait to see what happens, let's make sure that none of our people are flying with stress that they don't need, to effect their decision-making.''

Most flights were expected to resume Sunday evening, though McGonigle said flights over Winnipeg weren't expected to resume until Wednesday.

The company operates two balloons in Winnipeg and makes about four flights per day, McGonigle said.

After a day spent talking with passengers and investigators, McGonigle said he was able to go to the Winnipeg hospital early Sunday morning to check on the two injured passengers.

But he said because they suffered burns in the accident, the pair are in isolation rooms, so he couldn't speak directly to them.

McGonigle said he was "comforted'' that their conditions were quickly upgraded from critical to stable condition.

Passenger Bruce Kemp, a Grade 9 teacher from Winnipeg who was not seriously hurt in the crash, said the balloon's blow torch somehow got pointed inside the basket, causing it to ignite.

"It just didn't feel like it was really happening,'' Kemp said Saturday. "It was like it was out of a movie.''

He said the pilot tried unsuccessfully to land several times and 90 minutes into the flight told passengers to prepare for a difficult landing.

Kemp said he crawled out of the basket to see a man on fire and screaming for help while the man's young son looked on.

Hot air balloon crashes have been relatively rare in Canada, although in 2005, five people were injured in Caledon, Ont. after the hot air balloon they were in crash landed. Three years earlier, 10 passengers escaped injury when a hot air balloon drifted into a high-rise apartment building in Ottawa. In 2001, a 15-year-old girl was killed when the balloon she was riding in drifted into power lines and burst into flames near Ottawa.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Transport Canada investigates hot air balloon crash


Canadian Press

August 11, 2007 at 10:43 PM EDT

WINNIPEG — Transport Canada investigators say they believe high winds may have played a role in a hot air balloon crash near Winnipeg that sent three people to hospital.

Just after 9 a.m. Saturday, the balloon landed in a farmer's field about 30 minutes northeast of the city with 12 people on board. Witnesses said the balloon's basket flipped, a rope caught fire, then the entire balloon burst in flames.

“There was black smoke everywhere,” said Derek Heidinger, who ran to help victims after flames died down.

Another witness, Wes Lesard, said there was a ball of flames as high as a fully inflated hot air balloon.

“The pilot was trying to run back into the fire,” Mr. Lesard said. “He was so much in shock that I had to tackle him to get him back down.”

Mr. Lesard and his partner, Jackie Arbez, who are both nurses, said they treated one badly-burned man for shock while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

The man and another passenger were sent to a Winnipeg hospital with serious burns. Their conditions were upgraded from critical to stable within hours of the crash. Another person was also taken to hospital, while the nine other passengers were treated for minor injuries.

Transport Canada, which is now investigating the cause of the crash, said the balloon left a park on the south side of Winnipeg at 7:30 a.m. Peter Hildebrand with Transport Canada told Global TV Winnipeg that high winds likely caused the pilot to make an emergency landing about an hour-and-a-half later.

Mr. Hildebrand said investigators are looking at the registration documents of the balloon's owner, Sundance Balloons, to see if too many passengers were being carried.

Hot air balloon crashes have been relatively rare in Canada. In 2005, five people were injured in Caledon, Ont. after the hot air balloon they were in crash landed. In 1989, a pilot was killed when his balloon struck a power line and fell to the ground in flames near downtown Calgary. There was no one else on board.

Ontario-based Sundance Balloons operates 14 offices in Ontario and the western provinces.

Hot-air balloon crash injures 12

CanWest News Service
Published: Sunday, August 12, 2007

WINNIPEG -- A hot-air balloon carrying 12 people, including at least one child, crashed and burned this morning in a field north of Winnipeg.

Three people were taken to hospital after the balloon smashed into a farmer's field, about 30 kilometres north of the Manitoba capital.

Two are reported in critical condition and one is described as stable. Nine others were treated at the scene or at a nearby hospital and released.

Balloon pilot training

Just found an interesting link for people learning to fly hot air balloons.

Spot the two problems in the first two pictures.

Gary Mortimer

Remax balloon accident

It's believed at least three people were rushed to hospital this morning after a hot air balloon crashed in a farmer's field just north of Birds Hill Provincial Park.

Rescue crews responded to the scene near the corner of Provincial Road 206 and Highway 44 at around 9 a.m., shortly after the crash.

Witnesses reported as many as 10 people on board the balloon, including a child. At least two people appeared to be seriously injured.
Witness Wes Lesard, who was one of the first on the scene, said he saw the balloon hit the ground and bounce a few times, and then saw an explosion.

The balloon bore the RE/MAX logo, according to witnesses, and a RE/MAX vehicle was also on the scene this morning.

Another witness said hot air balloons frequently land in the area. However, he said he sensed something was wrong with this landing, as the balloon appeared to be coming in