After the shocking revelation that Lance Hopping, the pilot involved in the Carterton Ballooning tragedy in which 11 people died, was found with cannabis in his system we’re asking how widespread is the use of this illegal drug in New Zealand’s adventure tourism industry, and how much of a factor does it play in the industry’s high accident rate?
Yesterday a report into the Fox Glacier Sky Dive NZ crash also found that two of the jump masters were also found to be under the influence of cannabis.
We think its time for New Zealand to require mandatory drug and alcohol testing for everyone employed in the adventure tourism industry. With more frequent testing of people involved in high risk activities where operator error may lead to serious consequences for thrill seekers.
Additionally, drug and alcohol testing must be carried out on operators immediately after an accident or fatality.
If New Zealand’s reputation as a safe tourism destination is have any degree of credibility the government will take this issue seriously and deal with it swiftly to allay public concerns.
“Balloon crash pilot had smoked cannabis – report
The pilot of January’s balloon tragedy in Carterton was flying with cannabis in his system when he crashed, killing all 11 people on board.
Toxicology tests performed on the body of Lance Hopping, 53, four days after the crash returned positive for cannabis, with the discovery described as “concerning” by investigators.
The findings were part of an interim report issued by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) this morning, four months after the balloon struck powerlines, caught fire and crashed into a field on January 7…
…yesterday TAIC called for an alcohol and drug testing regime to be implemented for people performing activities critical to flight safety, after announcing that two tandem skydive masters had smoked cannabis before a Skydive New Zealand plane crashed after takeoff from Fox Glacier in September 2010.
While this morning’s report contains a number of details about what happened on the day, it includes no analysis of those facts, nor any recommendations or key lessons to be learned from the crash.
Instead those findings would be reserved for TAIC’s final report due in March next year.
The families of the victims were briefed on the report last month, and it is understood several people have had drafts of the report for weeks, including the balloon company owners, members of Hopping’s ground crew, and his fiancee Nina Kelynack.”
New Zealand has highest cannabis use
According to data compiled by the site Nationmaster.com New Zealand has the highest rate of cannabis use:
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We’re deeply concerned that there has been another hot air balloon accident in New Zealand, fortunately on this occasion no one was killed or seriously injured.
On Saturday 24 March 2012 a hot-air balloon coming into land with 18 passengers on board, crashed into pine trees which tore holes in the balloon. The snagging caused the balloon to tip onto its side.
“Passenger Savannah Hyssong says at least half the balloon hit the tree.
“There were massive holes. It freaked me out. The only thing I was thinking was should I jump out and grab a branch,” she told reporters.
A man was hit on the head by a branch and his seven-year-old daughter cried through the ordeal, Ms Hyssong said.
“There were sudden screams of panic. I think a lot of people were terrified.”
The balloon landed really hard. The basket tipped over with passengers landing on their backs, she said.
“It was insane. Freaky – scary as hell. That’s not the way it is supposed to be.” …read more Balloon passenger thought about jumping
The incident occurred in a field in Downs Rd near Eyrewell Forest. We believe that Ms Hyssong, who lives in Christchurch is originally from Chelsea, Michigan.
Details are sketchy and this may be all that you’ll be allowed to know as it is unlikely that a report into the crash landing will ever be made public. If we manage to find out more we’ll bring it to you.
This report appeared in The Press
“Civil Aviation Authority spokeswoman Emma Peel today said the weekend’s crash was being treated as a serious incident rather than a higher-level accident as it appeared there was no injury to passengers.
“Accidents findings were released only because they could be beneficial to the wider aviation industry, but incidents with hot-air balloons could often be related to an incorrect assessment of the weather, she said.
Investigators would talk to witnesses, the pilot and the company.
Peel said the investigation would be conducted from a desk in Wellington. No investigators would visit the site.
No action was being taken against Balloon Adventures Up Up and Away Ltd and it could operate flights as normal, Peel said… ” read more Balloon crash findings may never go public
In February of this year The Civil Aviation Authority recommended urgent checks of all hot air balloons in New Zealand after an inquiry revealed possible air worthiness problems.
The inquiry was launched after 11 people were killed in a hot air balloon fire in Carterton. Read blog Balloon Clips Powerlines, 11 People Killed In Fireball.
Until all hot air balloons in New Zealand have been checked to ensure they meet maintenance requirements our recommendation is to postpone or cancel your ballooning experience.
If the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) chief commissioner John Marshall, QC wouldn’t get into a balloon whose maintenance requirements hadn’t been met, why would you?
“The CAA said it had launched an investigation into the maintenance of hot air balloons in the wake of the TAIC report.
“The apparent breaches of the manufacturer’s procedures and the civil aviation rules are obviously sufficiently serious for us to make a recommendation,” Marshall said.
If he was a passenger and knew about the breaches, he would not have been willing to continue the flight.
“If I had known as a person about to get into a balloon that maintenance requirements had not been complied with, obviously, personally, I wouldn’t get into that balloon.”
Earlier, acting director of Civil Aviation John Lanham said the findings of the report were very serious…”
Find a safer way to enjoy New Zealand, and never assume that the safety standards that apply in your own country also apply there.