March 16, 1998 in Nation/World

5 Balloonists Down In Rockies Rescued

Compiled From Wire Services
 

An Army helicopter plucked five balloonists from their crash site high in the Colorado Rockies just as darkness and snow enveloped the area Sunday.

“We got them down just in the nick of time,” said Summit County Sheriff Joe Morales.

The balloonists, who used a radio to contact authorities, were found in good condition.

The hot air balloon was on a routine sightseeing flight when it was blown off course by unexpected upslope winds. It then ran low on fuel and made an emergency landing shortly before noon in a gully at about 11,000 feet, said pilot Ed VandeHoeff, 41, of Aero Cruise Balloon Adventures Inc..

Scollard said there were blue ice fields below the stranded balloonists and the threat of avalanches above them. The crash location is high above Interstate 70 near Frisco, about 75 miles west of Denver.

Winds kept helicopters at bay most of the day, and rescue teams were sent to traverse near-vertical ice fields and rappel the balloonists down.

The teams climbed back down after the Blackhawk helicopter rescued the balloonists.


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