Hot air balloon crash being probed

2012-04-16 11:39

Cape Town - While other hot air balloon companies cancelled their flights due to a strong wind on Saturday, one private Cape Town operator decided to go ahead with his balloon tour - which resulted in a crash on a Stellenbosch wine farm.

Die Burger reported that three women - MariƩ Jacobs, 50, Louise Vorster, 57, and Sanet Koster, 50 - were injured when the balloon flew into power cables and caught fire, crashing on Nooitgedacht wine estate.

Two of the women had to undergo operations and were in a stable condition in the Stellenbosch MediClinic.

Pilot Justin Fowler was not injured.

Farm owner Werner Wirth, 32, said Fowler had told him the crash would bankrupt him. Fowler had also said he had wanted to land in one of his vineyards but saw that poles had been planted and let in more hot air to land somewhere else.

A strong gust of wind then lifted the basket and blew them into power cables, causing a short circuit and fire. The ropes and cables caught fire and the basked crashed down.

A spokesperson from the Commercial Balloon Operators Association of South Africa said Fowler was not registered with them. All commercial operators had to be registered.

The incident would be investigated by the Civil Aviation Authority.

- Were you on the scene? Send us your eyewitness accounts and photos.

  • Jack - 2012-04-16 11:55

    Sounds like another terrorist attack

      John - 2012-04-16 12:54

      And this is why drugs are bad for you....

      Jack - 2012-04-16 13:39

      @John looks like you were under the influence of drugs when someone took that photo of you

  • Elize - 2012-04-16 12:21

    The wind was terrible on Saturday pure stupidity to fly or was the pilot just being greedy??

      Ettienne - 2012-04-16 12:33

      I agree with your comment. However, at the same time, taking into consideration the age of the passengers, surely they could have used their own common sense to think it is a risk. Hope they all recover well soon.

      Justme - 2012-04-16 15:40

      @Ettiene - Come on! They obviously trusted the guy to know what he's doing. If you ask a driver/pilot if it's safe and he tell you that he's been doing it for years and ofcourse it safe then you would believe it.

      Ettienne - 2012-04-17 10:01

      @ Justme. You are right to a point. As you have read, the weather was NOT favorable and the other balloonists cancelled their flights. Would it then not be reasonable to assume that it is taking a risk to fly with one when the others cancelled? I most certainly would, had it been me, not risked it at all, irrespective of what the pilot said. People seem to just take for granted what others say, instead of making sure. People lives were at risk here, and thank heavens they survived. Nature has its own way dealing with people and things, and as far as I am concerned, just like many others have stated here, this was greed from an individual irrespective of the safety of others.

  • James - 2012-04-16 12:24

    greed is what it sounds like. in ither words ,let us do our trip otherwise we have to refund. very sad guys

  • Goggiedol - 2012-04-16 12:28

    That is so stupid...ignoring the windy weather.....and its always the driver/opperator that is never injured yet they so stupid...those women should sue him for endangering their lives and his licence should be revoked...

  • John - 2012-04-16 12:49

    You know, the pilot realy just gets me all fired up, he is obviously full of hot air, shocking story.

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