Hot air balloons involved in small accident |

Hot air balloons involved in small accident

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

An accident involving two hot air balloons in the Brush Creek Valley last month was reported to the National Transportation Safety Board when one balloon sustained damage.

The incident, which happened at 6:30 a.m. on July 16, occurred when the pilot of one balloon, carrying six passengers, attempted to pass over a smaller balloon that had two on board. The basket of the larger balloon tore a hole in the upper third of the other balloon, prompting the craft’s pilot to land immediately.

No one was injured in the accident, according to a preliminary report written by the National Transportation Safety Board, and both parties agreed on how the incident occurred.

Bruce Wood, owner of locally based balloon company Above It All, was piloting the smaller balloon. He said the 14-foot rip in the top of his craft cost around $800 to repair.

“It is a substantial amount of fabric, but when compared to the overall square footage of the balloon, even the Federal Aviation Administration was going back and forth over where it was `substantial’ or `minor’ damage,” Woods said. “It was lot of fabric, but there’s a lot on the balloon.”

He said the balloon was safely piloted back to earth.

Greg Wellens, owner of Unicorn Balloon Co., was piloting the larger balloon.

“We were just flying around and the different winds blew me into him,” he said. “We went and landed about 10 minutes later and checked to make sure that [Woods] was OK. This is a small, tight community with only two balloon companies in town, and we all fly together.”

Woods compared the incident to a small fender bender between cars and said either Unicorn or its insurance company will foot the repair bill.

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