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March 2, 2021

Hot air balloon snaps power lines in The Pocket

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A Byron Bay hot air balloon. File pic.

A hot air balloon carrying 11 people brought down two power lines near the The Pocket Road at Middle Pocket just after 7.30am last Saturday.

‘It came over our house and dipped then just got over the power lines at our place then it lifted a bit before it came down and landed on the next power lines,’ said Pocket resident Vicki Morrow.

‘When they snapped the power lines they sparked for a minute and then went dead. It was lucky no one was killed. The guy who was in charge wouldn’t let anyone out of the basket until it was safe and they ended up with the balloon all over them.’

Ms Morrow said that ‘This isn’t the first time they (hot air balloons) have come close to the lines.’

Over the Easter period there were three hot air balloon incidents were reported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) from around Australia.

According to a spokesperson for Byron Bay Ballooning, whose balloon was involved in the incident, ‘The balloon didn’t land on the electricity lines, rather as the balloon was coming in to land and the basket was one metre off the ground, the top of the balloon brushed against the lines.’

‘When the balloon brushed against the lines, it was enough to bring two of the lines together which caused them to snap and fall back behind the balloon.’

Essential Energy crews responded immediately to reports of the powerlines being down said their North Coast Regional Manager, Brendon Neyland.

‘Crews secured the safety of the site and carrying out the necessary network repairs. Power was restored to all customers by 10.35am,’ said Mr Neyland.

Byron Bay Ballooning spokesperson pointed out that ‘Saturday’s incident was an extremely rare occurrence, the first since our company has owned the business. The company’s Chief Pilot, a highly experienced balloon pilot, was flying the balloon at the time.’

Investigation

The ATSB has confirmed with Echonetdaily ‘that it is not investigating the collision with a power line of a balloon which occurred near Byron Bay last Saturday.’

However, an internal investigation is being conducted by Byron Bay Ballooning and Essential Energy are ‘investigating the incident and assisting the relevant authorities with their enquiries,’ said Mr Neyland.


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