Sunday 4 December 2016

Piggy balloon saves pilot's bacon

Published 03/07/2015 | 01:41

The piggy bank balloon crash lands during America's Freedom Festival Balloon Fest in Provo, Utah (The Daily Herald/ AP)
The piggy bank balloon crash lands during America's Freedom Festival Balloon Fest in Provo, Utah (The Daily Herald/ AP)

The pilot of a pig-shaped hot-air balloon had a lucky escape when it crashed into a tree and caught fire at a festival in Utah.

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Erwin Oertli suffered only minor burns to his face. He was treated at the scene and released.

The balloons were rising at a field near central Provo when the top of the pig entry crashed into the basket of a cowboy balloon. The collision ripped a hole in the nylon fabric of the pig balloon, and a piece of plastic caught fire as it descended.

The fire was not extensive, said Christopher Liechty, a spokesman for Bank of American Fork, which sponsored the balloon known as Seymour, its piggy bank mascot.

Mr Oertli's burns came from melted plastic that dripped on to his face.

"What saved my bacon was that the head of the pig held a lot of hot air and helped the balloon to descend at a safer rate," he said.

Kevin Auernig, 37, of Provo, saw the accident at America's Freedom Festival Balloon Fest and watched the pig balloon come down fast and land in a fenced construction zone. He joked that parts of the balloon got stuck on a tree and looked like strips of bacon.

People jumped over the fence to try to help the pilot, who was bleeding and appeared shaken, Mr Auernig said.

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