On Albuquerque’s west side, a hot air balloon collapsed. The balloon’s gondola dropped about 100 feet and caught fire in the median of a busy thoroughfare. After the balloon hit electricity lines, four persons perished, and one was critically injured.
The cause of the accident is still being investigated.
This is the second fatal balloon mishap in New Mexico in 2021. In January, a passenger died from injuries sustained after being ejected from the gondola during a rough landing outside Albuquerque.
Is it Safe to Use Hot Air Balloons?
While hot air balloon excursions can be thrilling for people of all ages, it’s important to realize that hot air balloon mishaps and the injuries that occur can be serious and even fatal.
The good news is that hot air balloons are generally safer than they appear, and hot air ballooning is often considered one of the safest forms of aviation. Furthermore, hot air balloon mishaps are relatively uncommon in the United States—the National Transportation Safety Board reports that just 137 deaths have been related to hot air balloon incidents in the United States since they began collecting data in 1964. During the same period, at least 45,000 people died in small plane and helicopter crashes, according to USA Today.
The Risks of Hot Air Balloons
Accidents involving hot air balloons are unusual, but they do happen and can result in serious and occasionally deadly injuries. Whiplash, shattered bones in the upper and lower extremities, and traumatic brain injuries can all result from a forceful fall (TBI).
Hot air balloons, often known as gentle giants, are easily influenced by their surroundings, which are more prone to cause mishaps than any form of equipment failure.
Bad weather, especially windy, can be extremely dangerous for hot air balloons. Unfortunately, even the greatest weather predictors are occasionally wrong, and weather conditions can change instantly, requiring hot air balloon pilots to respond rapidly to navigate the balloon to safety.
Collisions with other hot air balloons are a big risk, particularly during massive balloon rallies like those staged in Albuquerque. Collisions can cause the basket to topple over, the pilot to lose control, or the aircraft to catch fire.
Collisions with immovable things are particularly riskier. Power lines, trees, and sharp objects such as barbed-wire fences can pierce the nylon of the balloon, causing it to crash.
An untrained pilot can jeopardize the safety of a hot air balloon. To obtain a private desirable air balloon license, a pilot only needs 10 hours of balloon flight experience in addition to passing written tests, according to current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards, which many veteran pilots argue is insufficient time to gain the necessary skills to pilot a balloon.
Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Safety
Follow these hot air balloon safety tips and any safety briefings offered before your ascent if you’ll be attending an event like the Friends and Lovers Balloon Rally in Albuquerque to enjoy a hot air balloon ride.
Appropriate attire is required.
Hot air balloons may get chilly at high altitudes in the winter, despite the glowing fireball above your head. Wear warm, breathable clothes that allow you to move freely. Wearing supportive, close-toed shoes might also assist you in maintaining your balance when you land.
Always pay attention to your pilot.
Although hot air balloon journeys might be surprising, experienced pilots have a good idea of what to expect when navigating a balloon. Before taking off, during the trip, and as you land, pay attention to any directions the pilot offers you.
Prepare to Land
In hot air balloon rides, rough landings are typical. You can avoid damage from a violent landing by keeping your balance as the balloon descends and paying attention to your surroundings. Your pilot will let you know when it’s time to brace yourself. Remember that you may be forced to lean or stoop to help everyone on board have a smooth landing.
Injured in an Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Accident?
Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys wish the residents of Albuquerque a safe and enjoyable Friends and Lovers Balloon Rally. You may be eligible for compensation if you or a loved one is injured while attending a hot air balloon festival due to an inexperienced pilot or another’s negligence.