Headcorn Aerodrome hot air balloon event safety advice

Hot air balloon The lineup for the 2013 Headcorn Aerodrome Balloon Event in Ashford included four launches of over 30 balloons

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A hot air balloon event in Kent has seen a safety drive to remind pilots to stay safe around overhead power lines.

Staff from UK Power Networks were giving advice and handing out leaflets at Headcorn Aerodrome this weekend.

Public safety manager Sonya Keating said lines could be difficult to spot from the air and hard to see in sun.

She said accidents were rare but the consequences could be fatal as seen in New Zealand when a balloon hit power lines and caught fire, killing 11.

Ms Keating said: "We would urge balloonists to be very aware of the dangers. Accidents do happen and we want to help eradicate them."

Safety tips

She said detailed aviation maps showed major transmission lines but not many of the other lines often mounted on wooden poles.

Safety advice for crews of balloons entangled in power lines is to call the emergency services, not to attempt to disentangle the balloon, warn people on the ground to keep well away, and not to try to leave the basket unless there is a threat of fire.

If anyone must leave the balloon, they should jump clear and stay clear, she said.

Balloon crews were also advised to watch for shadows cast by lines, to carry binoculars, and always presume an overhead line was live.

The lineup for the 2013 Headcorn Aerodrome Balloon Event in Ashford included four launches of over 30 balloons.

A statement on the website said health and safety was the primary concern of the committee, the event was weather-dependent, and organisers had the final say on whether ballooning activity took place.

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