Hot Air Balloon Goes Rogue at Missouri Festival, Leaving 1 Injured

Shelbi Malonson
By Shelbi Malonson
June 23, 2019USshare
Hot Air Balloon Goes Rogue at Missouri Festival, Leaving 1 Injured
A hot-air-balloon prepares to take off for the launch of the France Ballooning Championship in Mirebeau, France, on Aug. 10, 2016. (Guillaume Souvant/AFP/Getty Images)

A lighter-than-air celebration briefly came crashing to a halt when a hot air balloon tore through a crowd in Missouri on Saturday.

The incident took place during the Hannibal Bicentennial Celebration in Hannibal, Missouri, approximately 120 miles northwest of St. Louis. Event organizers said that the balloon’s flight pattern took a turn for the worse when the “experienced balloonist” grazed a tree during an attempted landing.

Event attendees captured the bumpy landing on video. The clip shows an enormous black and green hot air balloon barreling straight towards a watching crowd. Screams erupted as the balloon rushed dangerously close to the ground, knocking into people and folding chairs.

Members of the crowd hastily dove out of its path.

The aircraft briefly grazed the ground with its pilot still in the passenger basket. But it didn’t stop there. It continued to tumble through people and chairs, passing a pickup track and flying between two trees.

After reaching an open field, it again rose into the sky.

One child, a young girl, suffered minor injuries from the crash, according to the Hannibal Bicentennial Celebration committee.

One ambulance and one fire truck arrived at the scene to give treatment, and fortunately, the all-clear was given quickly. Marion County Dispatch added that the hard landing was considered a minor incident, and that police did not need to respond.

“Thankfully, there were no serious injuries, and the event continued,” officials said. “We are relieved to report nothing more serious.”

One man, who attended the event with his mother, said that the balloon’s basket—where the pilot and passengers ride—knocked his mother down as it landed. She reportedly suffered a cut on her hand, but was not otherwise hurt.

Several others were also knocked down, but there were no other reported injuries.

The unexpected chaos passed quickly however, and the day’s scheduled events continued as planned.

A Saturday night “balloon glow” event was advertised online, offering attendees the chance to ride in a balloon after dark and catch a glimpse of anchored balloons on the ground that had been lit up after dark. A sunrise balloon launch was also scheduled for the early hours of Sunday morning.

After the incident, all further events were set to continue as planned, according to Committee organizers.

Emergency in Sonoma County

Although hot air balloon travel may not be the most common method of modern transportation, similar accidents are not unprecedented.

Earlier this year on Feb. 17, a hot air balloon pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in Sonoma County, California, when high winds pushed the balloon towards power lines, according to Vallejo Fire officials.

At around 10 a.m., Vallejo dispatch received reports of the crash on Skaggs Island near highway 37. Shortly after, Solano county’s medic ambulance and California Highway Patrol (CHP) arrived at the scene. The 10 passengers on board were successfully rescued, with one suffering minor injuries.

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