Hot Air Balloon Safety.com
Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking,
once I've finished rolling a joint, I should be ready for take off,
just before the view from cockpit completely diminishes !
New Zealand Hot Air Balloon Accident
PIC, Lance Hopping: Cannabis before flight?
Respected Pilot or Druggie ?
Okay so it’s been three days since I received indisputable confirmation that cannabis is highly suspected to have been consumed by the pilot in the immediate lead up to this horrendous accident, I was purposely holding back before officially commenting. I say holding back for the simple reason I struggled comprehend how any pilot would actually consider, A, ever indulging in such practices in the first place, B, attempting to take command of an aircraft, or for that matter any vehicle, whilst so obviously impaired. Such abysmal actions must rate as the most villainous betrayal of passenger trust. Of course some, be it in vain, may attempt to shore up the industry somewhat failing credibility, would loosely argue that although Mr.Hopping was apparently a well-known druggie, that either long-term or indeed smoking weed immediately prior to flight, would fail to have any detrimental effect. To me, I would imagine many others levelheaded observers, view such despicable actions as simply a no-brainer.
Days later I still fail to fathom out as to what Mr Hopping was thinking when deciding to participate in such irresponsible habit, indeed if he actually was thinking. My philosophy here is that once, one has been afforded the enormous, obviously in this case, grossly undervalued privileges afforded by the issuance of any pilot license, such reckless participation is without doubt an act of recklessness. It is duly noted that Mr Hopping’s medical certificate had lapsed, therefore rendering his commercial pilots license null and void.
Whilst it might be rightly argued that had Mr Hopping been correctly licensed, may not have prevented this accident, however it highlights a very lax attitude, not only on Mr Hopping’s behalf, but also on the operator that he worked for. It is my experience that such records pertaining to licensing, medical along with periodical flight testing are normally an intricate part of record-keeping of any professional organisation. That said, this does not excuse the pilot, every pilot should assume ultimate responsibility to ensure that personal documentation are current prior to taking command of an air craft, particularly so when carrying their paying passengers. In neglecting this aspect of his profession as well as selfishly jeopardising his passengers lives, I believe that Mr Hopping not only let down the operator, on that day, he failed each and everyone around him.
Once I have had time to go over the official report in detail, I shall be reporting back to my readers, however disturbingly I note that in the New Zealand News, a report reveals that there were concerns about the pilot two years earlier. “ a balloon passenger had been informed that their planned flight was cancelled because the pilot appeared too pissed/or too high to perform his duties.” Apparently there were doubts about the investigation and therefore this meant no action was taken, however the files were never closed.
With the above in mind, along with many operators selfishly reluctant to adopt passenger safer practices, it would not be unreasonable to seek clarification as to if the warning signs were ignored. If so, this would certainly not be the first fatal aviation accident to have occurred after others had for misguided reasons, failed to pick up on, or fatally chosen to ignore the early yet palpable warning signs that had pointed towards the greater & unacceptable potential of disasters to come. Simply put, an accident waiting to happen.
If these findings are substantiated, and I suspect that they will, it seems to me, to indicate that it’s very often the case that passenger safety is so tragically compromised owing to the fact that we don’t necessarily have in place the necessary, importantly enlightened authority at the helm, one with the appropriate infrastructure, knowledge base and financial resources. Once these vital ingredients are in place, i it’s going to take an organisation that is brave enough to step forward, thereafter & without hesitation, to take the appropriate, above all timely actions.
Undoubtedly with hot-air balloon accidents are rightfully World News, particularly so with ingredients mentioned, the enormous ramifications are widespread. Not only does the New Zealand authorities have to come to terms with the obvious shortcomings within their entire adventure travel industry, without hesitation I have sympathy for the professionals within the industry that have been unjustly affected by one person’s recklessness, however now is not the time to dwell on those. I would like to take some time to think of the relatives of those lost. Unfortunately it’s a fact of life that regardless of which means of transportation are referred to in any particular investigation, the probability of an accident shall always be prevalent. Furthermore such tragic event are always by nature unimaginably painful for the relatives of those lost to come to terms with, however in this instance we aren’t witnessing the usual misplaced trot out clause of “a sudden gust of wind” or the more acceptable scenario of mechanical failure, it’s quite simply beyond comprehension when one is faced with the gut wrenching realisation that the selfish, proven reckless actions of someone who had apparently been allowed pass himself off as a commercial pilot rather than the somewhat blatant druggie that he was, was ultimately responsible for taking the lives of their loved ones, my heart goes out to all.
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