Blimp crashes while flying over U.S. Open golf tournament in Wisconsin

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A blimp caught fire and crashed to the ground near the U.S. Open golf tournament, injuring the pilot and causing an explosion on the ground. (Photo/Jennifer Tepp)

A blimp crashed this morning in a field about a half mile from the U.S. Open at the Erin Hills golf course in Wisconsin, injuring the pilot, the U.S. Golf Association said, citing local authorities.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office described the pilot's injuries and burns as serious. A spokesperson for AirSign, an aerial advertising firm based in Florida, said its blimp was involved in the incident and told ABC News the pilot suffered nonlife-threatening burns and will be "OK."

The pilot was the only person on board, the sheriff's office said, and no one else was involved, the U.S. Golf Association said.

The sheriff's office said one of its deputies reported seeing the blimp on fire or smoking, and rapidly descending at 11:15 a.m. local time. The sheriff's office described the U.S. Open as about a mile west of the crash site.

A spokesperson for AirSign said the cause of the incident is unclear but said it happened shortly after the blimp refueled.

The sheriff's office said, "The initial investigation reveals the blimp may have experienced mechanical problems prior to the crash."

"The advertising blimp had been airborne for several hours prior to the incident and the sheriff's office had been in contact with FAA representatives earlier in the day and determined the aircraft was lawfully operating at the proper altitude," the sheriff's office said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

The airship was not affiliated with the U.S. Golf Association or the U.S. Open Championship broadcast, the U.S. Golf Association added.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the pilot at this time," the U.S. Golf Association said.

Related Topics:
crashu.s. & worldgolfblimp

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