Balloon, Paraglider Collide, Four Hurt
A hot-air balloon and a paraglider collided as they flew above an airport open house in Cottonwood, Ariz., on Saturday morning. The balloon envelope tore but did not completely collapse, and photos from the scene appear to show the paraglider's canopy entangled in the envelope structure. The two aircraft fell about 500 feet to the ground. The three people in the balloon and the paraglider pilot were hurt, but reportedly with non-life-threatening injuries. The landing may have been softened somewhat by a broken chain link fence in an empty parking lot, according to the Associated Press.
About 10 balloons and two paragliders had launched for a morning flight from the Airfest 2010 event. The collision occurred about 7:30 a.m. Eric Wadleigh, 53, was flying the balloon, with passengers Susan Evans and Jon Bidolf on board. The paraglider pilot, Kenneth Ritchie, 53, reportedly suffered head and spinal injuries.