balloon.outback 13th August, 1989 : The collision of two hot-air balloons carrying tourist parties sent one plummeting to earth, killing 13 people, near Alice Springs, Central Australia, today. The tragedy happened about 10 minutes after four Toddy’s Tours balloons had taken off from a roadside. A passenger in the higher balloon said the balloon bellow came up and seemed to wrap itself around the gondola of his balloon. “It was very scary, frightening. Some people screamed on our balloon, but there was no sound from down bellow.” Another passenger said: “There was ripping as the top of the balloon bellow us tore, then you could hear a rush of air. Then it just slowly sank away beneath us”.

[ In 1992 the Northern Territory Supreme Court sentenced the pilot of the upper balloon, Michael Sanby, to two years’ jail, with an eight-month parole period, after an eight-man, four-woman jury had found him guilty of committing a dangerous act. He was found not guilty on 13 charges of manslaughter. … During his 13-week trial, the court was told that Sanby had outlaid about $1 million of borrowed money to get into the new commercial hot-air ballooning industry, and that business at Toddy’s Safari Ballooning was booming. Sanby’s conviction was subsequently quashed on appeal.” ]

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