16 Deaths in Central Texas Hot Air Balloon Crash

The July 302016 crash of a hot air balloon in Texas is the worst hot-air balloon crash in history.

Hot Air Balloon Crash - Callahan LawLate in July, Texas saw one of the worst hot air balloon tragedies in the nation.  The National Transportation Safety Board has confirmed that the hot air balloon struck a set of power lines before catching on fire and killing all 15 passengers and the pilot, Skip Nichols. It is believed that the pilot was attempting to quickly drop through a break in the clouds and did not see the power lines before he hit them.

Could this tragedy been prevented? Most likely.

As CBS News reports, the events that led to the incident violated flight rules that were in place to prevent tragedies like this from happening:

“By ascending that day, Nichols violated rules requiring a minimum of one mile of visibility. He then ducked through a cloudbank — by flying too low — and hit a power line that, in all probability, ignited the propane fuel tanks that had kept the balloon afloat.”

Protecting Yourself and Your Loved Ones

Every year, thousands of people safely enjoy balloon rides.  Here are some basic measures to keep in mind to ensure a safe ride:

  1. Don’t just book a flight with any company – do your research on them first. Find past customer reviews, check with the Better Business Bureau and check with the FAA to see if there have been any violations.
  2. Ask the company if they do a background check on their pilots. The pilot in this Texas accident already had one settlement as a result of a hard landing that injured passengers in a balloon he was piloting.
  3. Ask the company if they drug test their pilots regularly.
  4. Do not sign a liability waiver. The company should be responsible for your safety while you are in their balloon. Don’t let them talk you into signing away their responsibility for your safety and the consequences if they injure you while riding in one of their balloons.
  5. Make sure the company and the pilot have adequate insurance coverage.

If you have you or a loved one have been harmed because of someone else’s professional negligence, call for a free case evaluation.