Balloon Mishap Shakes Gordon Bennett Cup | Aviation

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By Amy Wilder.

In an unfortunate accident during the 66th Gordon Bennett Cup, a sport gas balloon, flown by Poland Team 1, collided with a powerline while participating in the international distance competition. The accident, which occurred near Crandall, Texas, located southeast of Dallas, has left both pilots, Krzystotf Zapart and Pjotr Halas, residents of Poland, with injuries, according to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (ABIF).

The balloon’s flight took a dramatic turn Monday evening when it came into contact with the powerline. Both pilots were transported to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas, for medical attention. Zapart, the lead pilot, suffered cuts and burns to his legs and arms, and Halas is being treated for burns and broken bones in his legs and midsection. The experienced gas balloon pilots have logged significant flight hours in their careers, according to a statement put out by ABIF on Tuesday.

“We are relieved that the outcome of the incident was not any worse, and to hear that Krzysztof may be released from the hospital later today,” said event director Tomas Hora in a statement Tuesday. “We are receiving many words of encouragement and support from the other teams participating in the Gordon Bennett and from the ballooning community throughout the United States and the world,” Hora added. 

Poland Team 1 was among 17 gas balloon teams participating in the 66th Gordon Bennett Cup, an international distance competition that draws elite balloonists from around the world. The team had the honor of being the first to take flight when the launch window opened at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday. All the participating teams embarked on their journey from Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and headed eastward toward the Texas-New Mexico border. Poland Team 1’s flight path took them over Arlington, Texas, at approximately 3:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time Monday.

The team maintained an altitude of 12,000 feet while…

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