Chaotic hot air balloon crash recorded; pilot shouts, 'Hang on, stay in the basket' as they skid across desert

A first time hot air balloon passenger takes video of his crash landing.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – It was a trip of a lifetime, drifting above the foothills of San Diego County. A relaxing float in a hot air balloon, gently nudged along by the breeze. Then, just a few minutes later the pilot yells, "Here we go, brace! Hang on everybody, stay in the basket, in the basket with me. Hang on."  

That was the experience documented by TikTock user Nicktokk on his very first hot air balloon ride. His video captured the screams of terrified fellow passengers as the gondola crashes into the desert floor. But that's just the start. The basket rises up, slams down again, and then is dragged at a 45-degree angle. 

The terrifying crash was sparked by a  wind gust that picked up as the balloon came in for a landing. The pilot told everyone to brace, hang onto the basket and stay inside. Nicktokk obviously was only hanging on with one hand and videotaped the scary landing.  

After several scary and panicked minutes, the gondola came to rest and all passengers escaped without injury.  


Balloon crash stats

Over 12 years, 78 balloon tours crashed in the U.S., according to a study by the National Library of Medicine. The research details 518 occupants involved in the crashes between 2000 and 2011. The paper reported 91 serious injuries and five fatalities. Balloons hit fixed object in all fatalities.

78% of crashes were blamed on winds. 

How a hot air balloon works

Balloons float because the less dense, heated air (by propane, similar to your gas grill) is lighter than dense cold air. The pilot raises (by heating the air in the balloon) or lowers into horizontal air currents to steer. Air currents change direction with altitude.