Pilot thrown from hot air balloon during New Year’s Eve flight just got engaged

An incident which saw a hot air balloon pilot thrown from a basket before being dragged by a rope is being investigated by the Transport Accident Investigation Board.  (File photo)

Mount Hutt Ski Area

An incident which saw a hot air balloon pilot thrown from a basket before being dragged by a rope is being investigated by the Transport Accident Investigation Board. (File photo)

The pilot of a hot air balloon who was ejected from the basket in a ‘freak accident’ during a flight on New Year’s Day had become engaged on Christmas Day and is recovering in hospital with his fiancée by his side.

Adventure Balloons New Zealand owner and chief pilot Graeme Church was seriously injured after he was ‘thrown’ from the basket, caught in a rope and dragged in a crash landing on Saturday, investigator Harald Hendel said. head of the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC). noted.

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

TAIC have launched an investigation to find out what caused the incident, which happened around 9.10am on Lyndhurst Rd, Lauriston, near Ashburton.

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Sam Clark, the driver of a pursuit vehicle following the Adventure Balloons flight, said Church was “quite battered and quite sore” and had “a bit of recovery ahead of him”.

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

Do you know more? hanna.mccallum@stuff.co.nz

“They go a bit high, so it was a bit sad to tell him. 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 flight had gone well up to that point.

“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.

The TAIC is appealing to all witnesses to the accident or anyone who saw the balloon while it was flying.

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

“The circumstances reported to TAIC were that the pilot of the balloon was ejected from the basket during a hard landing, was caught in a rope and dragged a bit before the balloon came to rest and the basket overturned. .”

An investigation team was at the scene on Saturday and will continue to collect evidence over the coming days, including from the scene of the crash and securing the wreckage, as well as data from the mobile phones of those on board 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 background of the pilot and other operator personnel, what they knew, thought, lived and did,” Hendel said.

Hendel said the aircraft’s components, its type history and performance, maintenance and design would be assessed.

“The operating environment is also of interest, including physical conditions, weather conditions, operating company’s security system, operator’s organizational culture, traffic control, 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 ball as it came in to land in a paddock near Arrowtown, Otago, dragging it across the ground.