Friday, November 1, 2013


An Air Accident inquiry into the disastrous multi-fatality hot air balloon tragedy at Dalefield in January 2012, has come out with a finding of pilot error.

What a surprise.

It is also alleged that Lance Hopping, pilot of the ill fated balloon, was a cannabis user and had in all probability consumed cannabis on the morning of the flight to extinction.
Had he been in mental best practice mode he may just have aborted the lift option and descended to avoid the power lines, who knows all might have survived
I think it was the principal of the adventure tourism company running the balloon flights who claimed on Radio this morning he had no idea his main man smoked, let alone used the weed.

Now in a lifetime, often around the periphery of some rather out of the daily grind activities that have made New Zealand a world leader in so many adventure tourism activities, including white water rafting, jet boating, bungee jumping, extreme skiing,  surfing and hot air ballooning, to name a few, a common thread, substance indulging and abuse, becomes apparent.
The apparent "on the edge" drama is a massive part of the attraction, even though most involved in managing, take extraordinary steps to prevent disaster. Only mandatory regular drug testing could have picked up on Hopping's risk taking that he clearly did not see as such.
Commercial Pilots apart from the old 8 hours between bottle and throttle have such survielance on their  work participation as a safety measure.

BUT smoking dope is very popular.

Many of those attracted to work in what is the very different world that embrace and encourage "alternative", also include the little bits of what boring old  citizens see as hedonism, in the private lives of those for whom it is the job.

Absolutely no surprise then, that the inquiry came to the conclusions it did and those that would defend such behavioral risk taking, are in denial, and that aint a river in Egypt.

All that said, it was a tragic end to the trip all the passengers embarked on that day, as a once in a lifetime adventure, apart from Mr Hopping,  for him, it was just going to work.

RIP all who died, some of whom I knew.


Anonymous said...

Smoking cannabis should b eillegal to prevent such tragic accidents.....................oh hang on

Anonymous said...

The testing should be extended to those driving cars as it is not only themselves and their passengers they endanger but those of other unwitting road users.

And no it is not an acceptable excuse to say that testing is unfair because it is found in the saliva/urine for days after use - it is found there so long after use precisely because it is still in the body affecting their reactions, depth perception and problem solving in a crisis.


The Veteran said...

It's rather sad to note how certain elements within the Carterton community are quick to spring to Hopping's defence.

Heart over brain and all of that.

Speaking as a pilot and there is no doubt in my mind that flying and drugs (any drugs) don't mix.

Hopping let his profession down big time ... end of story.