Sunday, November 18, 2007

Iowa balloon crash kills local doctor

Seems like this is the best place to leave condolences.

A difficult time for all three families, from the reactions on the site, Dr Boylan was much loved in the community he served.

Iowa balloon crash kills local doctorBY MILES BLUMHARDT

Fort Collins balloonist Dr. Tom Boylan and a Littleton man died and one man was injured when their helium balloon hit a power line Friday morning and crashed in north-central Iowa.
Boylan, 62, an osteopathic physician at Front Range Pain Medicine, 3744 S. Timberline Road, was pronounced dead at the scene, as was Bradley Brookhart, 37, of Littleton. Doug Chaplin, 58, of Albuquerque, N.M., was listed in fair condition Friday night at a hospital in Mason City, Iowa.
Reached on her cell phone late Friday afternoon, Boylan's wife, Margo, said she had no comment.

Shannon White, co-owner of Mountain Breeze Ballooning in Fort Collins, said he would have likely been in the balloon basket with Boylan had his wife passed on the message Boylan left on their answering machine Tuesday asking White to join him.
"I'd probably be dead right now," White said. "She just forgot to pass along the message. Usually she is on the ball about that. I think my angels were looking out for me. That's all I can figure because I'm sure I would have been right there. It's not my nature to turn down a flight."
The balloon was descending when it hit the line around 8:15 a.m. MDT. The balloon and the basket separated and the basket fell 60 feet to the ground, Franklin County Sheriff Larry Richtsmeier said. Residents who had come out of their house to wave at the balloonists saw it hit the power line, called 911 and rushed to the scene, Richtsmeier said. They found the basket on its side in the pasture, about three miles southwest of Coulter, which is about 85 miles north of Des Moines.

Fort Collins resident Bob McCluskey, who had known Boylan about 20 years, said he had flown with him and called Boylan a "very conservative pilot."
"He didn't take a lot of chances," McCluskey said, who also called Boylan "a great mentor for me."

On Friday morning, there were high scattered clouds and winds of 15 to 20 mph, Richtsmeier said. Investigators from the sheriff's office were at the scene Friday afternoon and officials from the Federal Aviation Administration had arrived to assist in the investigation.
"Sometimes, with that wind, you get stuck in a situation that has bad consequences," McCluskey said.

According to a phone call Boylan made to the Coloradoan on Tuesday inquiring about the possibility of coverage of his flight, he and a friend, Troy Bradley, were going to launch two balloons from Greeley on Wednesday evening. Boylan said he was going on a training flight.

Paperwork found in one of the men’s pockets indicated they had left Greeley on Wednesday and spent Thursday night in the Omaha, Neb., area. They were flying beneath a helium balloon, rather than a more common hot air balloon inflated by air warmed by propane burners.
White, of Mountain Breeze Ballooning, said helium balloons are more difficult to control than hot air balloons. Helium balloons only have ballasts to release to adjust elevation. Hot air balloons have ballasts and heated air blowing into the balloon to adjust elevation.
Boylan had more than 20 years of experience piloting balloons,
“It takes a lot of time for a helium balloon to respond,” White said. “I’m sure that had a lot to with it.”

White said Boylan was an excellent pilot who was respected and willing to help others. He never flew with Boylan in his basket but went to events where Boylan flew.
“My best memories of Tom were up at Snowmass,” White said. “We used to tailgate after flying and it was a lot of fun. He was a great guy. It’s like losing a family member.”

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