TWO people were severely injured followed a hot air balloon accident at Greta on Saturday morning.
Just after 7am, emergency services were called to Camp Road, about 21km from Cessnock, after the hot air balloon, with 15 people on board, attempted to land but struck a bush.
A sudden wind change is believed to be the cause of the incident.
An 80-year-old woman suffered multiple fractures while a 20-year-old female was treated for suspected spinal injuries. Both were airlifted to John Hunter Hospital in a serious but stable condition.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has been notified and will start an investigation.
In response to the incident the operators Balloon Safaris, issued the following statement: A hot-air balloon carrying 15 passengers took off at Whittingham, near Singleton, this morning at 5.45 and flew for approximately 35 minutes. The balloon took off in calm conditions in the company of three other balloons with a normal flight expected.
During the flight the wind speed increased much earlier than was predicted by the Bureau of Meteorology. The pilot decided to land at the first available landing spot.
The balloon landed firmly and some injuries were sustained by passengers in the basket as a result. All three other balloons landed safely. The pilot is highly experienced with thousands of hours’ flight experience.
The company is preparing to lodge the required report with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau regarding the incident. The company, while proud of its long safety record, regrets the incident and is providing assistance and support to the passengers and their families.
Two passengers were conveyed to John Hunter Hospital and two passengers to Maitland Hospital where they are reported to be in stable condition.
The hot-air ballooning community in Australia is bound by a shared wonder and love of lighter than air aviation, which, despite this incident remains one of the world's safest forms of aviation. All members of the hot air ballooning operators company including its commercial pilots, ground crew, maintenance and operations specialists, together with their families and friends extend their apologies to the passengers involved.