ERIN, Wisconsin — A blimp flying over the U.S. Open went down Thursday just beyond a rim of trees surrounding Erin Hills. The pilot, the blimp’s only occupant, was airlifted from the scene of the crash but was reported as alert and conscious, according to police.
Fan video caught the deflated blimp as it floated to the ground around 11:30 a.m. CT:
— golfjunkie (@mikecastleberry) June 15, 2017
Moments before, the blimp was flying low, just above the treeline. It then ascended. But just a few minutes later, a huge cloud of black smoke could be seen just beyond the grounds of Erin Hills in suburban Milwaukee.
The blimp crashed in a farm’s field a quarter-mile off County Road 83. At the scene of the crash, one individual was being treated for injuries by local emergency services personnel. Equipment on-site included three fire trucks, an ambulance and a Flight-For-Life helicopter.
Police reported that there was one individual on board the blimp, and that individual was “alert and conscious” following the crash. He was evacuated from the crash site in the back of a pick-up truck before being transported into an emergency helicopter.
The blimp was operated by AirSign, an aerial advertising operation.
“Thanks to everyone for your concerns,” AirSign tweeted. “The blimp pilot is being taken to the hospital but is expected to be OK.”
A later tweet explained that propane takes exploded “after [the pilot] was safe.”
A witness said the blimp was a couple hundred feet in the air when it deflated and began descending just east of the course. The blimp ended up crashing about a hundred yards away from the airstrip where it had taken off from earlier in the morning.
“We’d seen the blimp from a ways away, so we decided to get close and see if we could get some pictures,” said Hunter Guetzke, 16, a local resident. “Right when we got past the trees I could see it and it was deflating and starting to go down. … It basically just dropped straight down to the ground and when it hit the ground it exploded. … There were three fireballs and you could hear the explosion.”
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