Hot air balloon crash in Burlington; NTSB report provides new details

A National Transportation Safety Board report has provided new details about the June 1 hot air balloon crash in Burlington.

A collision between a hot air balloon and a northbound Canadian National freight train was reported around 8:15 p.m. that night. The balloon pilot and two passengers were seriously injured. No one on the train was injured.

The train engineer reported seeing the balloon descend and began to slow down because he couldn’t see where it was going, according to the NTSB report. He said he saw the balloon approach the train in his side mirror and applied the train’s emergency brakes.

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The hot air balloon landed in a grassy area between the train tracks and a street. As it lost air, the balloon exploded and got stuck in an empty train car, ripped off the ground and ripped from its basket. At this moment, the three occupants fell. The detached balloon then rose about 200 feet in the air.

Flight for Life was requested and transported two of the three patients to Froedtert Hospital for treatment. The third patient was transported to Froedtert by ambulance.

The balloon basket was intact, as were the two propane tanks. A fuel line separated from one of the tanks, and the second tank separated near the burner. The balloon eventually came to rest 500 feet from the gondola and was “substantially damaged”.