Accidents involving hot air balloons are rarer than small airplane crashes or helicopter accidents.

But when they do occur they can be dramatic and involve considerable loss of life. We have seen some high profile ballooning accidents in recent years that have claimed many lives.

In 2016, the deadliest balloon accident in U.S. history occurred in Texas when 16 people perished on power lines.

A subsequent inquiry concentrated on the actions of the pilot Alfred “Skip” Nichols who also died when the balloon caught fire.

A public hearing by the National Transportation Safety Board raised questions about Nichols’ decision to fly on an overcast day. The cloud ceiling was just 700 feet and the forecast suggested conditions were unlikely to get better.

hot air balloons

Safety concerns over hot air balloons

Three hours after taking off, the balloon ended up on high-voltage power lines near Lockhart, killing the pilot and 15 passengers.

National Transportation Safety Board, experts testified that Nichols had taken medications for a range of conditions that included depression and chronic pain. These would have disqualified him from flying an aircraft. However, the safety regime is laxer in the case of hot air balloons.

The Texas hot air balloon crash may have alarmed people seeking flights. However, hot air balloons are relatively safe, reported NBC News.

The station reported statistics showing that between 1964 and 2014, the NTSB reported on and investigated 775 hot air balloon incidents in the U.S.

Over that time, 70 people were killed in ballooning accidents. In comparison, deadly skydiving accidents are about seven times more prevalent.

Nevertheless, you should take precautions if you are going up in a hot air balloon. Watch out for strong winds and possible storms. An operator should not take passengers on rides in bad weather but the Texas tragedy showed things sometimes go wrong.

If you are hurt in a balloon crash or lose a loved one, you may have grounds to sue an operator. Call our Newnan personal injury lawyer at (404) 913-1529.