Police and first responders high gusty winds literally blew through the Denver greater metro area Saturday caused between 4-5 hot air balloon crashes that injured at least five people.

Starting south near Arvada. One person was injured when a small hot air balloon crashed into power lines and sparked a small brush fire at about 8 a.m., police reported Arvada police spokeswoman Jill McGranahan. Three people were in the basket when the balloon crashed near a highway intersection. Marcie EDITORS NOTE: IT JUST GIVES ME THE SHAKES TO THING ABOUT THE POOR PEOPLE HITTING A POWER LINE LIKE I DID! SPECIAL NOTE GOD BLESS YOU AND I HOPE YOU WERE NOT SERIOUSLY HURT FROM HAVING T BALLON RUN INTO THE POWERLINE! I AM PRAYING FOR YOU!

In Boulder a Sheriff’s Deputy reported a big balloon with dozen people were riding in a  balloon that hit the ground about 9 a.m. in a field southeast of Boulder.  The Balloon pilot was trying to land when the passenger basked hit the ground hard and was dragged about 50 yards.  Two women were rushed to the Boulder City Hospital for evaluation after complaining about back and neck injuries (hope the Balloon ride had insurance – something this blog insists that passengers get before stepping in the balloon basket)  the pilot was trying to land when the basket hit the ground and was dragged about 50 yards. Two women were taken to a hospital for evaluation after complaining of neck and back injuries.

The Balloon Pilot said, “The first 45 minutes were absolutely gorgeous, and then the winds just started picking up,” he said, adding, “It’s Mother Nature, and Mother Nature sometimes lets you know who is in charge.”  No comments were made by the pilot if the passengers were covered by Insurance.  The Pilot ticketed for landing in the field, a protected habitat for ground-nesting birds. The driver of a vehicle that went to recover the balloon also was ticketed for driving into the area.

Just before the Boulder balloon crashed, another balloon operated by a different company went down in the Rocky Flats area south of Boulder.  First Responder Dana Lewis, an engineer with the Rocky Mountain Fire District, said one of the 11 in the crash suffered an ankle injury. “We were watching the balloons go overhead and the balloon that crashed into Rocky Flats, they were screaming,” he said. “They were definitely going fast.”

In nearby Louisville Sgt Mark Spinder reported, a balloon went down in the stiff winds, injuring the pilot, who cut his wrist crashing into an undeveloped industrial park at about 7:45 a.m.  While trying to land.  None of the passengers in the balloon were reported hurt.

The Federal Aviation Administration out of Denver will investigate the crashes, all of which happened in the suburbs northwest of Denver.

Kauai Crash Kills 2
The fatalities are the third involving light aircraft in Hawaii in 14 months
By Rosemarie Bernardo
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, May 18, 2011


The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration will investigate a powered-glider crash off Kauai yesterday that claimed two lives.

Two men died after the light sport aircraft plummeted into the ocean about 100 yards off Honopu Beach in Na Pali Coast State Park.

Positive identification has yet to be made on the victims, but people in the powered-glider community identified the pilot, or instructor, as Steve C. Sprague, owner of Kauai Aerosports. The other man was a student described as a visitor who has a wife and son. Kauai Aerosports, a flight school, declined to release information yesterday.

Description of the light sport aircraft that crashed yesterday:
» Model: Pegasus Quik
» Manufacturer: P&M Aviation Ltd.
» Engine: Rotax 912-S 100 horsepower
» Speed: Up to 135 mph

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said operators of light sport aircraft cannot charge for passengers for tours, but that people can be charged for flight lessons.

The fatal crash was the third of a light sport aircraft — also known as powered gliders, microlights or trikes — in Hawaii in the past 14 months, and the second on Kauai this year.

The crash occurred at 10:53 a.m. yesterday. The Coast Guard launched an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter and a 47-foot motor lifeboat to help in the search. A tour boat discovered the bodies and the wreckage, according to Kauai County Fire Chief Robert Westman in a news release.

Gregor said the NTSB is making arrangements to recover the wreckage today.

Robert "Captain Sundown" Butler said he was aboard his sailing ship Kuuipo with crew members and passengers when he saw the powered glider with two passengers bank off a cliff.

Butler said he heard a pop like a rifle shot, then the aircraft went out of control and fell full speed into the ocean.

"He was going really fast. He didn't have lift," Butler said.

Butler said his son Larry and a passenger dived into the water to see whether they could rescue anyone.

He said they were unable to pull the pilot and passenger from the aircraft immediately, so they tied a rope to the aircraft and the crew and passengers pulled up the wreckage.

Butler said his son and the passenger then cut the men free enough to bring them aboard.

The rope slipped, and the wreckage sank to the bottom again in about 20 to 25 feet of water, he said.

Butler said he has seen powered gliders buzz the cliffs.

On Feb. 15 a powered glider piloted by Jim Gaither, owner of Big Sky Kauai, crashed in the ocean off Kauai Coffee Co. in Kalaheo. The next day, divers recovered Gaither and 49-year-old passenger Kathy Buergel of Spokane, Wash., after an extensive search. Big Sky Kauai shut down sometime after the fatal crash, according to Denise Sanders, owner of Paradise Air, a powered-glider company on Oahu.

On April 21, 2010, two people died when a microlight aircraft crashed and sank in Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii island. The victims were pilot Tedd Robert Hecklin, 38, owner of Tedd's Flying Adventures in Kailua-Kona, and passenger Kathryn Grace Moran, 37, of Kailua-Kona.

Sprague was the sole pilot at Kauai Aerosports, a flight school he and his wife, Anna, operated, according to their website at Flight lesson rates are $235 for an hour and $345 for 90 minutes.

Sprague ran a hot air balloon business in Texas, said Gene Shoemaker, Sprague's former father-in-law, from his home in San Antonio.

"To my knowledge he was a pretty good pilot," he said.

Sprague's main business was flying and he also flew parasails.

"That was his love and his main occupation," Shoemaker said.

He recalled Sprague went to several competitions in Albuquerque, N.M., although he didn't win. He last spoke with Sprague before he left for Hawaii about three or four years ago.

Shoemaker said Sprague has two adult daughters on the mainland and divorced about 10 years ago. He remarried and had at least another son with his wife in the islands, Shoemaker said.

Shoemaker had known Sprague since he was a boy in San Antonio. Shoemaker's daughter was Sprague's childhood sweetheart, and they married in their late teens or early 20s.

"He had a pleasant personality," Shoemaker said.

Star-Advertiser reporters Gary T. Kubota and Rob Shikina contributed to this report.


DEO (05/10):  Runaway Balloon Crash 

  • VIDEO:  Power Outage In Westport After Balloon Crash
"A hot air balloon crashes into a power line while making an emergency landing in Westport, causing a power outage in more than 100 homes."


  • Woman Hurt In Hot-Air Balloon Crash Seeks Compensation
Wednesday, August 29, 2007


  • NBC Didn't Report Balloon Accident During Macy's Parade
Posted Nov 26th 2005 8:19PM by Kim Voynar


  • Woman Hurt in Hot-Air Balloon Accident
BETHLEHEM TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - A woman helping her husband launch his hot-air balloon was critically injured when her leg got caught in a rope and she was pulled up into the air and fell through the roof of a barn.

Kathleen J. Long, 53, of Phillipsburg, was in critical condition Monday morning at St. Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa. The accident happened Sunday in Bethlehem Township, N.J.

It was not clear how Long's leg got caught in the rope. Witnesses say she dangled from it for a short time and passed through several tree tops before she was knocked off.

She then fell about 50 feet and crashed through the barn roof, officials said.


  • Balloon Accident Victim Identified
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Nappa Valley Register
Register Staff Writer

Authorities have identified the tourist who died when he fell about 300 feet from an ascending hot air balloon early Tuesday morning.

Brian Stevenson, 33, of Coatbridge, Scotland, died instantly when his body hit the asphalt parking lot at the Domaine Chandon winery in Yountville as his relatives and the balloon crew watched in horror from the ground. For the complete story:


<<Marcie - 01/25/02 >> To bring everyone current, I thought I'd let you know, I've been talking with several other hot air balloon pilots lately.


There are good pilots and there are bad pilots and yes, good and bad car drivers, ship captains etc.  I had a very unsafe, uncaring pilot as has become more apparent by the fact that he has refused any and all contact with me since the date of the accident in which we hit a powerline.

I've come to believe that exceptional pilots will gladly display and give you a copy of their insurance policy. Those not insurable, or whom do not take full responsibility of those passengers they carry will not have insurance. Example:  Steve C. Sprague.  INCREDIBLE JOURNEYS HOT AIR BALLOON RIDES

When you review his site (above) you will notice that nowhere does he talk of safety in general, his personal safety record, or the record of his company. Other sites found on the WWW do.

As of (1-10-2003) I have filed a lawsuit, and currently I am attempting to have our pilot served by the Court system. Steve C. Sprague, however, seems to have great skill at avoiding.

Marcie Cook

<< Marcie - 01/23/03>>
From: "Marcie Cook"
To: <>
Subject: Steve's victim
Date: Thursday, January 23, 2003 7:03 AM

I am the victim of your carelessness on January 12, 2002 when you flew me into 7960 volts of power lines.
You may want to review my site.

Marcie Cook
You are a success when you have made friends with your past, are focused on the present, and are optimistic about your future.Ziz Zigler


<< Marcie - 01/12/03 >> Today is not a very good day for me. It is the one-year anniversary of my hot air balloon accident.

As I sit here and think about all the horror and trauma I have endured this year I can't help but wonder about the person that caused it all. Steve C. Sprague. Owner of Incredible Journeys and the pilot that changed my life forever.

Steve called the hospital the first day I lay there and asked Rod, my husband, how I was.
My husband told him I was listed as stable. He took this word and turned it into "Oh she is just fine" as evidenced in his email to Brian and AnMarie.

That was his last contact with me.

I sent him a Fed X letter and photos on 4-8-2002, which was signed for by a J. Sprague, but not a word was ever heard from Steve.

I could not get a lawyer to take the case. The PI came up with many "default judgements" against Steve and zero insurance coverage.  Me and all my bills at Brooke Army Medical Center were left high and dry.

I have learned a lot from all of this. I have learned to be a better person and I devote more time to how others think and feel and forget about myself.

I have devoted endless hours to this web site. I am also writing a book about my experience. I find this both calming and useful.

I want everyone to know that hot air ballooning is not a safe sport. There are numerous things that can happen. Landings are never pleasant. Please continue to explore this site and all the many links I have researched.

Please check out your pilot, his insurance coverage, and yes, it is OK to ask for proof. The really good and caring pilots will give you this information in a second. The dead beats of course won't, as they don't have any proof to give you.

I think hot air balloon pilots should police their own. I think they should be indigent to someone like Steve C. Sprague who through lack of caring and professionalism flies customers "fee for service" and does not feel one iota of responsibility for them.

Marcie Cook

<<Forward E-Mail (Original-Pilot: Steve Sprague) 12/10/02>>
-----Original Message-----
From: AnMarie Bozick []
Sent: Tuesday, December 10, 2002 7:23 PM
To: Marcie Cook
Subject: Fw: Photos from 01/12/02
Dear Brian and AnMarie,

I don't think a pilot could ask for better passengers than the group I had with you.  You have ALL been troopers and extremely understanding and supportive.  I can never repay the debt of gratitude that I feel for all of you and I am SO thankful that we are all still here to have these feelings.

The pictures are excellent and I again am indebted to you.  We used to film just about everything about every flight both in still and video just for our own archives.  Over the years and since my divorce , we just haven't started again and although it was just for grins, I can see a value here that I have never thought of. Obviously, I hope that I will never have to use it for this again.

Marci Cook was released yesterday and is at home resting.  Although I have not been able to speak to her as of yet, I did speak to her husband later Saturday evening.  He was remarkably gracious and kind.  He is an old helicopter pilot and said that he understood how this could have happened and was very sympathetic to my overwhelming sense of responsibility.  Please keep them both in your prayers as well we are.

I came home after everything and pretty much passed out.  I slept for about 5 to 6 hours straight.  Besides it all, my family and my crew and a few friends finally convinced me that I needed to get back in the air as soon as possible and so with a few heebee jeebees, I flew again on Sunday.  The flight was sent from above.  It was beautiful, tranquil and as close to perfect as it gets.  I found it remarkably relaxing moments after we left the ground.  Landing was textbook and gentle with the chase crew less than 50ft away!  I did have to clear a small line to get into the field and felt a little tight in my gut until it passed under us.  A "bend the grass" landing was the final dose of medicine to clear my head.  I will however NEVER forget the moments and the people that were involved in that flight on Saturday.  I am thankful that we are all alive, that no more were injured than there was and that I was given this opportuni! ty to learn to do what I do even better and even safer.  As the Chief Pilot for my company, I have made it regulation that none of our pilots are allowed to transition to a "letdown" below pole height until clear of the landing boundary of any field.  Obviously, just depending on eyesight seeing wires is not as good as seeing poles ... anywhere near the flight path.  As the local Aviation Safety Counselor for ballooning in this region, you can rest assured that I have something new to teach the rest of balloonist.

We look forward to replacing your trip with a REAL Incredible Journey and you are welcome anytime.

Unable to express my appreciation,

Steve Sprague (Marcie's Balloon Pilot)
Incredible Journeys Hot Air Balloon Rides
P.O. Box 691312
San Antonio, TX 78269

<<Marcie - 11/5/02>>
----- Original Message -----
From: Marcie Cook
Sent: Tuesday, November 05, 2002 8:55 AM
Subject: the real truth

I purchased a certificate from you and took my flight with STEVE C. SPRAGUE INCREDIBLE JOURNEYS on January 12, 2002. See:

This is what happened to me.  This plus the fact I lost the vision in my right eye!

Steve (Steve C. Sprague) has no insurance and I was left to pay $220,000.00 in medical bills. Steve has eleven default judgments against him already so there is no hope of a law suit. My goal is to change the insurance, the FAA laws and make balloon pilots a responsible member of society. This photo is before the should see me now.


Wilson County
January 16, 2002
Balloon hits power line; 1 hurt
By WCN Staff

LA VERNIA - A hot-air balloon owned by a San Antonio company struck a power line southeast of here Saturday morning, sending one pasenger to a metro hospital with minor burns, according to reports.

No other injuries were reported by the balloon's pilot and six passengers, according to the Department of Public Safety.

The balloon, owned by Incredible Journeys Balloon Rides, was descending on a course parallel with U.S. 87 at about 8:49 a.m., DPS Trooper Bryan Jarzombek reported.

The Pilot was landing in a pasture near the intersection of C.R. 342. However, the pilot did not see until too late those trees concealed an electrical pole whose line cross-connected with a power line along U.S. 87.

The balloon struck the power line and knocked it down. The pilot regained control of the craft, Jarzombek said.

A passenger, Marcie Cook, 58, of San Antonio, was burned, the trooper reported.

Patrol deputies and La Vernia volunteer medical and fire units arrived. A landing zone was set up for an AirLife helicopter, and Cook was flown to Brooke Army Medical Center.

She wastreated for minor burns on her scalp, face, and legs, a BAMC spokesman said, then discharged Sunday.

The Federal Aviation Administration was notified of the mishap, Jarzombek said.


Desktop Doppler
January 20, 2002
Hot Air Balloon Crash

A peaceful hot air balloon flight suddenly turns dangerous. This after the balloon slams into power lines, severely burning a passenger. I happened in Wilson County near La Vernia, that's about 20 miles east of San Antonio.

With the help of a state trooper, the balloon's chase team carries away the downed and deflated balloon. Police say the balloon hit these power lines which exploded as it attempted to land.

"We noticed a big shadow coming over our house and then we wondered what it was and we went to go check it and then heard the big boom," said witness Larry Keeble.  According <to> the witneses three passengers were in the balloon, two escaped, but a woman was severely burned in the face by the electrical flash. Larry Keeble saw it happen. "I busted through these two lines right here and barely skimmed this house right here. And it was like a big explosion. A giant arcing."

The balloon was part of the Incredible Journeys Balloon Company. The statement on their bus reads, "We fly excitement." "Things happened pretty fast. There wasn't a lot of time for talk. I prayed with some people... tried to calm'em down. That's about it," said witness Carolyn Heil.

The people who run the Incredible Journeys Balloon Company didn't want to talk to News 4 about the accident. But News 4 has learned federal investigators have now been called in to find out what went wrong. As for the survivors of the balloon crash, it'll be an incredible journey they'll never forget.

Saturday afternoon, the burn victim, 58-year old Marcella Cook of San Antonio is in satisfactory condition at Brooke Army Medical Center.


From: Steve K. Sprague []
Sent: Sunday, July 18, 2004 12:57 PM
Subject: Please update your website
Importance: High
I have contacted you in the past asking you to clarify who "Steven "C. " Sprague" is.

I am Steven K. Sprague and I live in San Antonio as well.  I have grown tired of people thinking I am the other Steven Sprague.  I am a Deputy with the Bexar County Sheriff's Office and I am NOT the Steven C. Sprague that is responsible for your injuries.  Please put some kind of disclaimer on your website or a picture of the person so that those that know of me, will not waste my time questioning me over things I have had nothing to do with.  The last straw for me came when one of our Civil process deputies contacted me thinking I was "your" Steven C. Sprague.  This has happened many times in the past and it really isn't very fair to me for this to keep going on when you can probably help the situation by making things clearer on your website to anyone that's doing an investigation on this person.


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