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Pilot saves self, glides pig-shaped balloon after crash

July 3, 2015
2 minutes read
Pilot saves self, glides pig-shaped balloon after crash

PROVO, Utah: A pig-shaped hot-air balloon crashed into a tree and caught fire at a balloon festival in Utah, cutting the pilot’s face.

Paul Warner, a festival executive, said the licensed pilot of the fallen balloon suffered minor burns to his face. He was treated at the scene and released.

The balloons were rising at a field near downtown Provo when the top of the pig entry crashed into the basket of a cowboy balloon.

The collision ripped a hole in the nylon fabric of the pig balloon, and a piece of plastic caught fire as it descended. The fire was not extensive, said Christopher Liechty, a spokesman for Bank of American Fork, which sponsored the balloon known as Seymour, its piggy bank mascot.

The pilot, Erwin Oertli was the only person in the balloon and suffered minor burns from melted plastic that dripped onto his face, the bank said in a statement.

“What saved my bacon, was that the head of the pig held a lot of hot air and helped the balloon to descend at a safer rate,” Oertli said in the statement.

Witness Kevin Auernig, 37, of Provo said he saw the accident at America’s Freedom Festival Balloon Fest and watched the pig balloon come down fast and land in a fenced construction zone.

He joked that parts of the balloon got stuck on a tree and looked like strips of bacon. People jumped the fence to try to help the pilot, who was bleeding and appeared shaken up, Auernig said.–AP


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