New Brighton hot air balloon accident

On  the morning of 19 October 1995, a hot air balloon on a scenic flight over Christchurch was caught by a strong wind and landed in the sea, off-shore of North New Brighton, Christchurch. As a result 3 people lost their lives.

What happened?

A hot air balloon was caught by a strong wind and had to land in the sea at the end of a scenic flight.

As the balloon was coming in to land at Ascot Golf Course, it was caught by a strong wind and lifted up to 1600 feet. The pilot managed to stop the balloon from climbing, and tried to land again. He wasn’t able to land before the balloon was blown out to sea.

200 metres offshore, the balloon landed in the sea, and was blown further out once it had landed. Several passengers were thrown out of the basket and into the water, when the balloon landed. The pilot of the balloon told those passengers to swim towards the shore.

A fisherman who has just docked his boat, heard about the accident and headed to the scene. He and his crew recovered six passengers from the sea and the pilot of the balloon from the basket of the balloon. One of the passengers that was recovered from the sea had died.

The bodies of the other two passengers who died were later recovered from the beach. The sea was rough and the water was very cold. It was very unlikely that the passengers would have been able to swim to the shore.

How many died?

3 people died.

Investigation

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission investigated this accident and decided that the pilot was not at fault. They did find that the pilot was concentrating on the landing of the balloon so may not have seen the sudden change in the weather. The sudden bad weather was found to be the reason for the crash.

The Commission said that life jackets would have increased the chances of survival and recommended that the Balloon Association of New Zealand consider making all passenger balloons carry life jackets.

More information and sources

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