Hot Air Balloon Crashes in Lockhart, Texas

Note: A previous version of this article included an unverified YouTube video purporting to be the crash site.

A hot air balloon carrying 16 people caught fire and crashed under power lines, killing all on board in Lockhart, Texas. Lockhart is about 30 miles south of Austin. The company involved has been identified as Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides. Fox News reports that the accident “happened about 7:40 am… when the hot air balloon crashed into a pasture.”

Caldwell County Sheriff Daniel Law was quoted in a statement, “It does not appear at this time that there weren’t any survivors of the crash.”

According to CNN, the hot air balloon caught fire before it crashed into a field. The pilot has been identified as Skip Nichols. Read more about him here.

An aviation attorney told CNN that the balloon crash would be investigated like any other aviation accident. The pilot’s qualifications will be investigated he said, as will the balloon itself, its burner unit, and the pre-flight planning, the attorney said to CNN.
The pilots of hot air balloons need certification, said CNN.

Hot air balloons rise and drop by increasing the size of the flame, and the pilot controls the flame. There could be a situation where a balloon would run into weather conditions or hit a power line, said the CNN expert, but it’s not known whether those things were in play in the Texas balloon crash. However, the Texas balloon’s debris is right below high voltage power lines, said USA Today.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted his condolences to the families of the victims. He further added in a statement:

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, as well as the Lockhart community. The investigation into the cause of this tragic accident will continue, and I ask all of Texas to join us in praying for those lost.

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