What Caused the Worst Hot Air Balloon Accident in U.S. History?

Photo of a Metal Texas Road SignThe deadliest hot air balloon accident in U.S. history occurred on July 30, 2016. 16 people, including the pilot, were killed when a hot air balloon crashed into a power line. It was recently announced that the pilot, Alfred “Skip” Nichols, was likely impaired on a variety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs when the accident occurred.

According to investigators, the pilot may have been under the influence of Valium, opioids and cold and allergy medicine when he ignored weather warnings and flew the balloon into a power line. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) medical officer said that there was enough Benadryl in the pilot’s system to mimic the effects of a high blood-alcohol level. Nichols also had four prior drunk driving convictions, though no alcohol was found in his system after the crash.

Should the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Regulate Hot Air Balloon Rides More Strictly?

The NTSB has concluded that the Lockhart balloon crash might have been avoided if stricter FAA regulations had been in place. The victims’ families as well as state lawmakers have called for improved safety regulations as a result of the crash.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an aviation accident in Texas, our personal injury and wrongful death attorney can assist you in securing the recovery that you deserve.



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