Deadliest Hot Air Balloon Accidents In History

Hot air balloons are kept afloat by burning gasses.
Hot air balloons are kept afloat by burning gasses.

Hot air balloon rides are often a part of the “bucket list of things to do” of many travelers across the world. Rising in the air in a small bucket-like gondola/wicker basket supported by a massive envelope kept afloat by burning gasses is definitely an adventure of a lifetime. Hot air balloons provide a magical view of the landscape below and an unforgettable experience of floating in the air. However, like all good things are associated with negative aspects, hot air balloon rides are not free of risks and accidents. The disasters mentioned below prove this fact.

5. 2012 Ljubljana Marshes Hot Air Balloon Crash

On August 23, 2012, an unfortunate incident claimed the lives of six people in Central Slovenia’s Ljubljana Marshes. A hot air balloon carrying 32 passengers got caught in a thunderstorm on the Ljubljana Marshes. The sudden weather change compelled the pilot to attempt an emergency landing which was thwarted by wind shear. The balloon hit nearby trees and caught fire. Four people were charred beyond recognition and included a 56-year old lady, a couple, and their 11-year old daughter. Ten people had to be resuscitated. In the aftermath of the disaster, hot air balloon rides were temporarily stalled in the region and stricter rules and regulations were enforced by the government of the country. The pilot was charged with carelessness, but the pilot denied such accusations.

4. 2012 Carterton Hot Air balloon crash

A scenic hot air balloon ride turned into the worst nightmare for the riders when the balloon struck a high voltage power line, caught fire, disintegrated and crashed. The incident took place on January 7, 2012, in Carterton, New Zealand. All eleven people on board that included ten passengers and the pilot were killed in the disaster. An inquiry into the disaster revealed that the pilot of the hot air balloon had made a misjudgment by deciding to maneuver the balloon over the high voltage line instead of utilizing the rapid descent system to land the balloon rapidly on the ground. The analysis of the blood report of the pilot after the accident revealed that he was under the influence of tetrahydrocannabinol suggesting that he might have been under the influence of cannabis during the flight.

3. 1989 Alice Springs Hot Air Balloon Crash

The third deadliest ballooning accident ever, 13 lives were lost on August 13, 1989, when two hot air balloons collided near Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory. At 6:38 am local time on that fateful day, one of the balloons ascending from the ground collided with another one above it. The lower balloon’s envelope engulfed the basket of the upper one and developed a tear as a result of this impact. It started deflating rapidly and plunged to the ground at top speed killing all 12 passengers and the pilot. Passengers of other hot air balloons in the vicinity were treated for shock after the incident. The collision and crash were blamed on the operators of the two balloons whose carelessness and misjudgment were thought to result in the disaster. The pilot of the upper balloon was judged as guilty and imprisoned for manslaughter.

2. 2016 Lockhart Hot Air Balloon Crash

On July 30, 2016, sixteen people met their death when a joyride on a hot air balloon turned into their worst terror. The hot air balloon was operated by the Heart of Texas Balloon Ride company and was a Kubicek BB85Z model. On the day of the accident, the balloon carrying 15 passengers and the pilot left the Fentress Airpark at local time 07:09 and struck power lines at 07:42. The balloon immediately crash landed into a field near Lockhart, Texas, caught fire and all passengers were killed in the accident.

1. 2013 Luxor Hot Air Balloon Crash

The most horrific hot air balloon disaster ever occurred on February 26, 2013, near Luxor, Egypt. Hot air balloon rides are extremely popular among tourists visiting Egypt as the rides provide an aerial view of the magical landscape of the country. However, tragedy struck when the Ultramagic N-425 balloon departed on a sight-seeing flight, and a fire started in the balloon a few meters from the ground. The balloon suffered from a fuel leakage, but attempts at safe landing failed, and the balloon rose higher. Seven passengers jumped to their death to escape the fire while the remaining met their death when the balloon exploded mid-air and crashed to the ground. The sound of the explosion was loud enough to be heard from several kilometers away. Bodies of passengers remained strewn across the crash site. 19 passengers died in the accident including 18 deaths on-site and one in the hospital. Luck saved one British passenger and the pilot of the balloon both of whom suffered serious injuries and burns. The news of this accident led to the banning of hot air balloons for a considerable period of time. The maintenance engineer and the pilot of the balloon were later arrested on charges of negligence.

The Deadliest Hot Air Balloon Accidents Ever Recorded

126 February 20132013 Luxor hot air balloon crashLuxor, Egypt192
230 July 20162016 Lockhart hot air balloon crashMaxwell, Texas, United States160
313 August 19891989 Alice Springs hot air balloon crashNear Alice Springs, Australia130
47 January 20122012 Carterton hot air balloon crashNear Carterton, New Zealand110
523 August 20122012 Ljubljana Marshes hot air balloon crashMunicipality of Ig, Slovenia626

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