Balloon pilots confident despite fatal crash - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Balloon pilots confident despite fatal crash

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The annual Alabama Jubilee Hot-Air Balloon Classic in Decatur is set to take place Memorial Day Weekend. (Source: MGN) The annual Alabama Jubilee Hot-Air Balloon Classic in Decatur is set to take place Memorial Day Weekend. (Source: MGN)
DECATUR, AL (WAFF) -

Authorities in Virginia said the pilot and a passenger of a hot-air balloon died of blunt-force trauma. Another passenger suffered severe burns.

Their balloon caught fire after hitting power lines at the start of the Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival.

The accident happened as preparations begin for the annual Alabama Jubilee Hot-Air Balloon Classic in Decatur, which is set to take place Memorial Day Weekend.

Pilots in the area said they are not planning to take extra precautions beyond those that are already in place.

"We're not really rethinking, we are just reassuring ourselves of what we're doing and making sure we're doing it right," said pilot Ken Garner.

Garner has been flying in the Jubilee for decades, and said there are several safety procedures he always follows, such as staying grounded above certain wind speeds or during approaching storms.

With the latest technology, Garner checks weather trends on his phone and makes sure they are correct before he takes off.

"We inflate a helium balloon and release, watch it to make sure the wind speeds that we have been given are fairly accurate," he said.

While pilots are confident in going up, residents are a bit more apprehensive after the Virginia tragedy.

"I'd go up right now if the weather was right," said Betty Sims. "I would be a bit more cautious, know that they had their pilot's license, that they had been cleared."

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