Tuesday, May 13, 2014

VA Balloon Explosion Kills Pilot and 2 College Basketball Coaches

VA Balloon Explosion Kills Pilot and 2 College Basketball Coaches --- ===
tags: timeline 2014, college victims, pilot/driver killed, air travel incident, Balloon Crash

May 9, 2014  VA Balloon Explosion Kills Pilot and 2 College Basketball Coaches an experienced pilot in a working at the  inaugural Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival balloon accidentally struck powerlines as it was landing which caused a spark.  The pilot Daniel Kirk had over 30 years of experience and 660 hours of flight time tried to open vents to release hot air in an attempt to keep the balloon from rising faster did everything he could to avoid a crash but was killed. The other two killed were University of Richmond women's basketball coaches associate head coach Ginny Doyle and director of basketball operations Natalie Lewis.  Toxicology showed no alcohol in Kirk's system. The pilot was taking Allegra, an antihistamine, along with a medication for blood pressure. However, there is no indication that those medications contributed to the cause of the crash. The federal report determined  was the pilot’s fault.  probable cause report released by the National Transportation Safety Board stated that the pilot’s inadequate approach and his failure to maintain clearance from power lines resulted in a subsequent fire.

NTSB report stated.

"A video obtained from one of the witnesses showed that, as the balloon descended and approached the landing site, the pilot engaged the burner; however, shortly after, the balloon struck power lines, which resulted in a spark," the report stated. "Subsequently, the basket and a section of the balloon’s envelope caught fire."

"The balloon then began an accelerated climb and drifted out of the camera’s view. The wreckage was found about six miles north of the power lines. Examination of the wreckage revealed no preexisting mechanical anomalies with the balloon."

“It is likely that the pilot identified the power lines late in the approach and ignited the burner to climb but that insufficient time remained to clear the power lines,” the report concluded.

Alternative theory: Could it have been deliberate crash? Unlikely given lack of evidence, but compare to Texas 2016 crash of pilot who had suspended drivers license and took a cocktail of drugs for no apparent reason other than to provide a cover story.  Texas Balloon Crash Kills 16  Aug 2, 2016 Experienced balloon pilot who has suspended license and jail time for drunk driving flies a perfectly good balloon into power lines for no apparent reason or mechanical failure.. Was it a murder suicide attack?

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/05/10/hot-air-balloon-catches-fire-crashes-in-virginia/?intcmp=latestnews

Pilot in Fatal Air Balloon Crash had 30 Years Experience
http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/hot-air-balloon-accident/pilot-fatal-air-balloon-crash-had-30-years-experience-n102266
The father of pilot Daniel T. Kirk confirmed to NBC News that his son was the operator of the balloon that caught fire during a balloon festival Friday night in Virginia.
associate head coach Ginny Doyle and director of basketball operations Natalie Lewis were two of the three people aboard the balloon that crashed Friday night...the pilot of the balloon was doing everything he could to save his life and the lives of his two passengers on Friday night in the moments before the balloon exploded...
...Police said another pilot who was interviewed by investigators described how the pilot tried to open vents to release extra-hot air in an attempt to keep the balloon from rising faster.

Donald Kirk said Sunday that his son, Daniel T. Kirk, was at the controls of the balloon.

Donald Kirk said his son was a retired lieutenant Army colonel who served in the military for 37 years.

Friday's crash was "just a freak accident," Kirk said.

New NTSB photos, video capture final moments of deadly hot-air ...
wtvr.com/2015/01/16/doswell-hot-air-balloon-crash-ntsb-report/
WTVR‑TV
Jan 16, 2015 - “As the accident balloon approached the landing site, the pilot engaged the ... University of Richmond coaching staff members Ginny Doyle and Natalie Lewis .... The autopsy listed "blunt force trauma" as the cause of death.  Daniel Kirk, the balloon's pilot, died of blunt force trauma. According to the toxicology report, there was no alcohol in Kirk's system. The pilot was taking Allegra, an antihistamine, along with a medication for blood pressure. However, there is no indication that those medications contributed to the cause of the crash.

“Multiple eyewitnesses reported that the accident balloon approached the intended landing area from the south where another balloon had just landed,” the report reads. “As the accident balloon approached the landing site, the pilot engaged the burner; however, the balloon struck powerlines, which resulted in a spark.

A video obtained from a witness indicated that as the pilot approached the intended landing area on May 9, 2014, he engaged the burner for about 15 seconds prior to impacting the powerlines. Subsequently, the balloon basket and a section of the envelope caught fire. The balloon then began an accelerated climb and drifted out of the top view of the video recording.”

Report finds 2014 hot-air balloon crash due to 'inadequate approach ...
wtvr.com/.../report-finds-hot-air-balloon-crash-due-to-pilots-inadequate-a...
WTVR‑TV
May 8, 2015 - A federal report determined that the hot-air balloon crash in May 2014 ... University ofRichmond staffers at the inaugural Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival was ... The probable cause report released by the National Transportation ...

SEE IT: New video shows fatal hot air balloon crash in Va. - NY Daily ...
www.nydailynews.com/.../new-video-shows-fatal-hot-air-ballo...
New York Daily News
Jan 16, 2015 - SEE IT: New video shows fiery hot air balloon crash that killed 3 people during festival ... release a cause behind the May 9 catastrophe though bad weather ... Coach at Richmond are seen before getting on the hot-air balloon ...

Medical examiner releases cause of death in balloon crash - NBC12 ...
www.nbc12.com/.../medical-examiner-releases-cause-of-death-in-hot-air-balloon...
WWBT
Medical examiner releases causes of death in hot air balloon crash ... Doyle served as associate head women's basketball coach at the University of Richmond.

University of Richmond Honors Victims of 'Very Odd' Balloon Accident ...
www.nbcnews.com/...balloon-accident/university-richmond-honors-vi...
NBCNews.com
May 11, 2014 - A hot air balloon caught fire and crashed at the Meadow Event Park in ... alumna and a coach for the women's basketball team, and Natalie Lewis, a former ... that weather and wind speeds didn't appear to cause the balloon to ...

NTSB report fails to shine light on cause of fatal balloon crash ...
www.richmond.com/news/article_41e75968-bfb2-55e0-9c87-7d072455a32d.html
Jan 16, 2015 - A federal investigative report into the hot air balloon disaster that killed two University of Richmond athletic leaders and the balloon's veteran ... lives of Ginny Doyle, associate head coachof the UR women's basketball team, ...