You might think drunk driving is dangerous, but what about strapping a wicker basket to a gas flame thrower and shooting heat into a giant balloon that lifts you up into the sky. To make matters worse, get high on Valium, cold and allergy meds and opioids before inviting 15 people to fly through the air with you.
This is exactly what happened in the deadliest ballooning accident in history about a year ago. Investigators suspect that the pilot of a hot air balloon — that crashed and killed 16 people — was high on drugs.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wants to increase regulation of balloon pilots
According to the NTSB, the pilot of the balloon in this accident was impaired by drugs in a way that was similar to a drunk driver. NTSB regulators are now criticizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for not regulating balloon pilots strictly enough. The NTSB wants balloon pilots to submit to medical checks in the way that airline pilots do.
The pilot of the balloon in this crash had four previous drunk driving convictions on his record. Had he been an airline pilot it’s not likely he would have been permitted to fly the balloon.
During a public hearing, the NTSB said that government crash investigators had requested more stringent regulation of the balloon industry in the wake of previous accidents. The NTSB also criticized the FAA for allowing voluntary pilot requirements, which had been drafted by the Balloon Federation of America.
Drunk ballooning and drunk operation of other vehicles
Balloon pilots, boat captains and the operators of all kinds of vehicles can be accused of drunk operation. If the drunken operation of these vehicles leads to a crash and serious injuries, the pilot or operator could be in serious trouble with the law. At the very least, accusations of criminal negligence could come into play.
It’s important to note that not all accusations of drunk vehicle operation will be appropriate. Those accused of drunk driving, drunk boating, and even drunk ballooning, will therefore have the right to defend against criminal charges in court.