Pilot thrown from hot air balloon on New Years flight just got engaged

An incident in which a hot air balloon pilot was thrown from a basket before being dragged by a rope is currently under investigation by the Transportation Accident Commission.  (File photo)

Mount Hutt ski area

An incident in which a hot air balloon pilot was thrown from a basket before being dragged by a rope is currently under investigation by the Transportation Accident Commission. (File photo)

The pilot of a hot air balloon who was thrown from the basket in a “freak accident” on a New Year’s Day flight got engaged on Christmas Day and is recovering in hospital with his fiancee at her sides.

Adventure Balloons New Zealand owner and chief pilot Graeme Church was seriously injured after being “thrown” from the basket, caught in a rope and dragged in a hard landing on Saturday, the investigator said in head of the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) on the accidents Harald Hendel mentioned.

Seven other people were on board, but no other injuries were reported, Hendel said.

TAIC launched an investigation to understand the cause of the incident, which occurred at around 9:10 a.m. on Lyndhurst Rd, Lauriston, near Ashburton.

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Sam Clark, the driver of a pursuit vehicle that followed the Adventure Balloons flight, said Church was “quite beaten up and quite in pain” and had “a bit of recovery ahead of him”.

Church had only recently become engaged, he said, and his fiancee was with him in hospital, where he is in stable condition.

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“They go a little too high, so it was a little sad to tell him that. She’s been in the hospital with him for a few days … I think he was happy to see her.

Clark was at the scene of the incident and said the theft had gone well up until then.

“It was just a freak accident.”

The company, based in Methven in Mid-Canterbury, offers scenic flights across the Canterbury plains, as well as private charter flights.

TAIC appealed to all witnesses to the accident or to anyone who saw the balloon in flight.

“We are particularly keen to receive photographs or videos,” said Hendel.

“The circumstances reported to TAIC were that the balloon pilot was thrown from the basket during a hard landing, caught in a rope and dragged a certain distance before the balloon came to rest and the basket did not move. overturns.”

A team of investigators were at the scene on Saturday and would continue to gather evidence over the next few days, including at the scene of the crash and securing the wreckage, as well as cell phone data of those at edge such as photos, videos and location data.

“We are interested in what the occupants of the balloon remember, as well as the relevant professional and personal history of the pilot and other operator personnel, what they knew, thought, experienced and did,” said Hendel.

Hendel said the aircraft‘s components, type history and performance, maintenance and design will be assessed.

“The operating environment is also of interest, including physical conditions, weather, operating company safety system, operator organizational culture, traffic control and regulatory issues.

WorkSafe and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have been notified, police said.

In July, two people were seriously injured after a gust of wind caught a balloon as it landed in an enclosure near Arrowtown, Otago, causing it to slide across the ground.

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