ERIN, Wisconsin – An advertising blimp at the U.S. Open golf tournament in Wisconsin deflated and crashed on Thursday, burning as it fell and injuring the pilot, authorities said.
The pilot, who was not identified, was being treated for serious burns and injuries, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. No one else was on board the blimp.
The incident occurred near Erin, Wisconsin, about 45 miles northwest of Milwaukee. The sheriff’s office said the blimp may have experienced mechanical problems prior to the crash.
Just got to the #USOpen and the blimp caught fire and crashed. People parachuted out. pic.twitter上海龙凤419/1lDi3VkXCu
— madison seigworth (@msiggyy) June 15, 2017
The blimp crashed in an open field about a half mile (one km) from the Erin Hills golf course around 11:15 a.m CDT (1615 GMT), according to a statement from the U.S. Golf Association.
Some witnesses reported on social media that the blimp was on fire and smoking before it hit the ground, and smoke was visible rising among the trees after the crash.
The blimp, not affiliated with the U.S. Open, was operated by Airsign, a Florida-based company, to display advertising, Airsign sales manager Catherine Walsh said.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it would investigate the incident. According to the sheriff’s office, the blimp had been airborne for several hours prior to the incident and was lawfully operating at the proper altitude.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the pilot at this time,” the USGA statement said.