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Hot Air Balloon Emergency Landing in Winters

Home » Hot Air Balloon Emergency Landing in Winters
July 22, 2019
Edward Smith

Hot Air Balloon Emergency Landing in Winters

A hot air balloon emergency landing occurred in Winters on July 19. Two balloons were on course to land when the wind interfered with their designated landing trajectory. Instead of setting down in an open field as intended, the balloons were forced to land on the right shoulder of Interstate 505, near Highway 128. According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), no one was injured in the accident. Learn more about the potential for balloon accidents and associated fatalities as we take a look at the safety of ballooning. 

What an Injury Lawyer Can Do for You

Hot air balloons have the potential for causing serious injuries and deaths. If this happens to you, it could be the fault of the balloon operator, the pilot or a malfunction of the balloon equipment. In such cases, you have the right to receive compensation for any injuries you may have suffered. When our firm is involved in a hot air balloon accident, we send out our investigative team to the crash site to determine why it happened.

If a malfunction due to the manufacture of the balloon or its equipment occurred, we also check to see if similar situations have occurred in other parts of the country. We check the pilot’s license to operate the balloon and his or her record for previous accidents as well as the balloon’s certification. Once negligence has been established, our legal team structures a claim against the negligent party. This will help you recover the cost of medical care, lost wages, and other expenses associated with the accident.

Accident Statistics

From 1964 to 2014, there have been 775 accidents involving hot air balloons. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recorded 70 fatalities during this period. Some of the chief reasons the balloon accidents occur are:

  • Balloon malfunction
  • Inclement weather
  • Pilot error and negligence
  • Flying too low over trees
  • Hitting a power line
  • Fire
  • Hard landings
  • Balloons colliding


In July 2016, a hot air balloon accident in Texas claimed the lives of 16 people. Reports at the time said the balloon hit a power line. Eyewitnesses at the scene said the power line touched the basket portion of the balloon before it caught on fire and hit the ground. All 16 people on board were killed in the fire. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said this was the deadliest balloon accident since records have been maintained. The NTSB said details in the accident were limited and that the weather was clear. The hot air balloon was operated by a tour group in the area. 


Hot air balloons are classified as aircraft and are regulated by the FAA. Pilots who man the balloons must be certified each year. Passing the in-flight certification is a necessary factor to maintain an active license. In addition, the balloons are subject to an annual inspection. This test evaluates the balloon’s fuel system, the fabric, the burners, other equipment, and the basket’s integrity. Once the balloon passes the inspection, it is awarded its airworthiness certification. Without it, the balloon is not allowed to fly. 

Weather Conditions

Ballooning requires fair weather. The best weather is when the air is cool, and the wind speed is about 8 mph. The wind speed and the heat index usually increases in the afternoon, so most balloons fly during the morning or evening hours. 

Why Heat Affects a Hot Air Balloon

In order to put air inside the balloon, fans are used to fill it. This is referred to as cold packing. Once the balloon is filled with air, the burners are used to heat the air. The air is heated to approximately 100 degrees over that of the outside temperature. If the balloon is flying in the afternoon when the heat is high, the pilot would need to make the air in the balloon dangerously hot. This can result in fabric damage. 

 Hot Air Balloon Accident Lawyer 

I’m Ed Smith, a hot air balloon accident lawyer. If you have been injured in a hot air balloon accident or if a loved one has been killed, you need the help an attorney can provide. Call me at (530) 392-9400 in Yolo County, (916) 921-6400 in Sacramento and (800) 404-5400 nationwide for free and friendly advice. You can also reach out to me online.

I’ve helped residents of Sacramento and Winters in all types of car accidents, wrongful deaths, and other traumatic accidents for the past 37 years. 

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