Local News

Santa Barbara Hot Air Balloon Pilots Making Safety Top Priority in Wake of Texas Balloon Crash

Hot Air Balloon Pilots Making Safety Top Priority

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Hot air balloon pilots are making sure safety remains a top priority for Santa Barbara Glow in the Park.

The fundraising event will be held on September 10 at Elings Park put on by Doctors without Walls - Santa Barbara Street Medicine. The humanitarian group's goal is to continue to provide free, volunteer medical care for the most vulnerable population within Santa Barbara County.

The pilots brought two hot air balloons to Elings Park on Monday morning for a photo opportunity to advertise the upcoming event, but the Texas hot air balloon crash was on their mind. 16 people were on board that balloon.

"We're praying for their families and the pilot's family. We don't know what happened yet, so I can't comment on what happened, but it's so strange. We'll find out what happens. Our hearts go out to these families and to these people. It's heartbreaking," said Steve Wilkinson, a hot air balloon commercial pilot.

Wilkinson says location scouting and checking the forecast are important to keeping his passengers safe. He also keeps a close eye on anything out of the ordinary during flight.

"We can pull the tops out of the balloons and let all that heat out in just seconds and we can put the balloon on the ground and keep it from dragging around," says Wilkinson.