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4 hurt in Hot air balloon incident in Temecula Valley, questions on safety in the skies

Balloons still rise in Temecula courtesy photo (c) KLHart via Twitter

Balloons still rise in Temecula courtesy photo (c) KRHart via Twitter

Hot air ballooning in Temecula is one of the favored activities for Temecula tourists, for many, soaring high over wine country is considered a “bucket list” item.

On Sunday, November 10, 2013, Los Angeles resident KR Hart got a peaceful view of Temecula as balloons took to the sky one day after 4 were injured following a balloon landing gone awry on Nov. 9, 2013. “I did know about the incident,” Hart stated, “Bub balloons still went up (over Temecula) today.”

The incident in question occurred after a hot-air balloon landed. An explosion occurred at the landing sight on Vino Way and Calle Cabernet in Temecula Valley. Riverside County Fire Public Information Officer John Annas stated: “Firefighters responded to a hot air balloon down, following an uneventful landing, when an explosion occurred, injuring 4 of the 5 occupants.”

According to Annas, “One patient was transported via ground ambulance to a regional burn center. Two patients were transported via ground ambulance to local trauma centers, and one patient was transported via ground service to an area hospital.” Currently, their condition is unknown.

While the FAA and NTSB are investigating this begs the question as to the overall safety of hot air ballooning, and the history of accidents in the United States. A recent study by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health‘s Center for Injury Research and Policy in the November issue of Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine evaluated hot-air balloon tour crashes from 2000-2011. “During the 12-year period, 78 hot-air balloon tours crashed, involving 518 occupants.”

According to the report, “Most crashes occurred during landing,” specifically involving hard landings or fixed object collisions. Susan P. Baker, MPH, ScD, professor and founding director of the Injury Center at Johns Hopkins and a co-author on the paper, stated: “We know over half the serious injuries we reviewed in our study were lower extremity fractures sustained during landings.”

Leland P. Beaty, an Injury Center data analyst with 20 years of aviation experience and co-author on the paper went on to state, “A more standardized reporting of hot air balloon crashes would assist the development of targeted interventions aimed at decreasing the number and severity of balloon crash injuries, and improve the public health impact of less-regulated commercial air tour operations, like paid hot-air balloon rides.”

Education, openness, and accident records are key when selecting a hot air balloon company, and usually should be available on their web site, or upon request.  Such items to ask for include:

  • Operate in compliance with FAA
  • Commercial licensed Pilots
  • FAA Letter of Authorization and Drug Testing
  • California Public Utilities Commission Insurance
  • Charter Party Carrier Permits
  • State Workers’ Compensation
  • Third Party Insurance

Hart openly advocated her hot-air balloon tour of Temecula Valley Wine Country, stating, “It was so pretty. We went up with California Dreamin’ and had a great pilot, nice people, with mimosas and brunch included. I would highly recommend hot air balloons in Temecula. Just make sure you choose a reputable company with experienced pilots.” 

About Ashley Ludwig

Ashley Ludwig is an Editor for Patch News, Orange County and Los Angeles. She is also an inspirational romantic suspense author.

One comment on “4 hurt in Hot air balloon incident in Temecula Valley, questions on safety in the skies

  1. Kayashed
    November 10, 2013

    Extremely interesting article and made us realize how to approach balloon safety and ballooning for fun.


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