Inexperience and flying at such high altitude were combining factors in the deaths of two Bristol men who died when their hot air balloon crashed in Somerset, according to the coroner at the inquest into their deaths.
Delivering a narrative verdict, Maria Voisin, at Flax Bourton Coroners Court, said Lee Pibworth and Allan Burnett were inexperienced with some of the equipment they were using and this played a part in the crash that led to their deaths in January last year.
The inquest continues today into the deaths of Lee Pibworth and Allan Burnett. The men, from Bristol, were killed when their hot air balloon crashed in Somerset in January last year.
An inquest heard the details of the moment a balloon carrying two men plummeted to the ground after attempting to break a high altitude record.
Lee Pipworth and Allan Burnett set off from Chelwood in Somerset, before they came down on a bowling green in Midsomer Norton on New Year's Day last year.
Eyewitnesses from several villages around the crash site have described how they saw the deflated balloon hurtling towards the ground. Richard Lawrence reports.
Martin Coward, a fireman returning from a nightshift in Bath, was the first to arrive on the scene. He also saw the balloon hurtling towards the ground 'very loud and fast'.
When he reached the basket he said he could see a man sitting up inside but no sign of movement. He assumed the man was unconscious but he couldn't reach him because it was too hot.
Michael Jones from Radstock said the balloon was partially inflated. He described how he heard a loud thud as it hit the ground and saw flames and smoke coming from the area.
He said he ran towards the basket and found it well ablaze. He was forced to retreat because he feared the gas cylinders would explode.
Eyewitnesses from several villages around the crash site have described how they saw the deflated balloon hurtling towards the ground. Theresa Horton was alerted by what she described as a horrific noise. She could see one person inside the basket who appeared to be operating the burners.
An Inquest is being held into the deaths of two men from Bristol who were killed when their hot air balloon crashed in Somerset last year.
Lee Pibworth and Allan Burnett both died when the craft hit the ground in Midsomer Norton on New Year's Day.
An official report into the incident by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch found a combination of factors, including possible inexperience, were to blame for the crash.