NTSB investigating fatal Virgina hot air balloon crash (w/ video)Doswell, VA (CNN) - What caused a hot air balloon to slam into power lines at a Virginia festival? Federal authorities are now investigating the fiery crash that killed the pilot and two passengers.
By: Alexandra Field, CNN
Doswell, VA (CNN) - What caused a hot air balloon to slam into power lines at a Virginia festival? Federal authorities are now investigating the fiery crash that killed the pilot and two passengers.
Hours before the ill-fated flight at a hot air balloon festival in Doswell, Virginia - one of the victims documented her apparent excitement with a series of Instagram pictures - One of them with the eerie caption - "Will go up this evening #anxiety"
911 Operator: "Got a report that the basket has come off and we're trying to find that right now."
The NTSB is now investigating a crash that killed three people, one month after the agency issued a letter to the FAA urging greater safety regulations meant to "address operational deficiencies in commercial sightseeing (air tour) balloon operations"
Heidi Moats - NTSB Air Safety: "During the investigation, we will examine the man, the machine and the environment."
The balloon hit a power line Friday night as it came in for landing, catching fire. Then, a small explosion separated the basket from the balloon. Witnesses saw two people jump or fall.
Carrie Hager-Bradley – Witness: "You could hear them screaming "Please Dear God, Sweet Jesus, help us, we're going to die."
Daniel Kirk, the pilot, had thirty years of flying experience according to his father. A police spokesperson says the pilot was seen doing safety maneuvers.
Corinne Geller - Virginia State Police: "He was taking every effort he could to manage the situation and extinguish the fire."
His passengers were Ginny Doyle a 44 year-old basketball coach at the University of Richmond, and Natalie Lewis her 24 year old coworker. Both were alumnae of the university, which honored them Sunday with a moment of silence during a commencement ceremony.
A spokesperson for Meadow Event Park where the balloon festival was held says that the FAA was on site inspecting balloons and records pre-flight. An FAA spokesperson wouldn't comment on the investigation, saying only that FAA safety inspectors routinely conduct surveillance at airshows, balloon festivals and other aviation events.