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Saturday, July 30, 2016
Lockhart balloon crash: First picture of tragic pilot killed as footage emerges showing devastating wreckage
The tragic pilot who died in a
hot air balloon
crash in Texas has been named as Skip Nichols.
He was chief pilot at Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides, the company involved in the disaster in Lockhart earlier today.
All 16 people on board were killed when the balloon came down in a field near Austin at around 7.40am local time.
Mr Nichols posted several pictures of himself online from the baskets of other balloons while flying high above the Texas countryside.
People have paid tribute to him on social media following his tragic death.
Wendy Bartch posted: "Love you Skip. Forever... Rest in Peace my friend. You touched my heart."
An image from July 21 shared by hot air balloon pilot Skip Nichols
Facebook/Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides
Mr Nichols was described as 'happy go lucky'
Bianca Szal Storll added: "Skip Nichols 24 years ago you took me on my first and only balloon ride.
"Your passion for it was contagious as was your happy go lucky outlook on life. RIP my friend."
William Nelson, a balloon pilot with another company, wrote: "We lost a long time friend and balloon pilot Skip Nichols in this morning...
"My heart goes out to his mother and to the families of the passengers that were flying in the balloon."
People have paid tribute to Mr Nichols online
The site of the hot air balloon that crashed in Lockhart, Texas
The tragedy happened 30 miles south of the city Austin, after a blaze appears to have broken out in the basket mid-flight.
The balloon had been 26 minutes into an hour-long flight when it crashed close to power lines.
Police are investigating whether the wicker-made basket touched the electricity leading to it catching fire.
Emergency services were called out to the scene this morning
Police at the scene of a hot air balloon crash in Texas
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An eyewitness said she heard a popping noise when the balloon came down.
She said: "At first I heard a whooshing sound and then a big ball of fire.
"I would say it (the fireball) got up as high as those power lines."
Previous image of a basket used in the air balloon tragedy in Lockhart
Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides/Facebook
A Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon (file picture)
Witnesses say when emergency services arrived they believed it to be a car crash only to be greeted by a scene of devastation with the bodies of the passengers and crew strewn across the ground.
A resident closed to the crash site said he “a few hours later and found their bodies.”
July 30, 2016
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