Two people died saturday morning in Somerset, UK as their burning hot air balloon plummeted to the ground and exploded in a fireball during a failed a high-altitude flight.
The man, named locally as experienced balloonist Lee Pibworth, 42, and an unidentified man were flying the balloon at 20,000 and were being monitored by Bristol Air Traffic control when they got into difficulty.
Ground crew – including some family members – watched helplessly as the pilots, both wearing oxygen masks because of the altitude, disappeared into the cloud.
But minutes later the balloon, operated by the Blenheim Balloon Team in
Wiltshire, reappeared with the canopy deflated and literally dropped from the sky.
The balloon’s basket exploded as it hit the ground at Prattens Bowls Club Midsomer Norton, Somerset, killing both pilots instantly.
Two off-duty fire fighters, who were on a bike ride nearby, saw the balloon hit the ground and raced to help – but could not get near to the basket as its four LPG gas cylinders ignited.
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