Wait for report on Carterton balloon crash

01:12, Jan 05 2013
Belinda Harter and Stephen Hopkirk
Belinda Harter, 49 and Stephen Hopkirk, 50, of Lower Hutt.
Diana Cox
Diana Cox, 63, of Wellington, died along with her husband, Howard.
Howard Cox gallery
Howard Cox, 71, of Wellington, died along with his wife, Diana.
Alexis Still and Chrisjan Jordaan gallery
Alexis Still, 19, of Wellington, and Chrisjan Jordaan, 21.
Lance Robert Hopping, 50, was to marry long-time partner Nina Jane Kelynack at Easter weekend.
Lance Hopping, 50, was the pilot of the balloon. He was due to marry long-time partner Nina Kelynack at Easter Weekend.
Denise Dellabarca
Denise Dellabarca, 58, of Paraparaumu.
Lance Hopping
Lance Hopping

Families of those killed in last year's Carterton balloon crash will have to wait for a further six months for a final report on the tragedy.

An investigation was started by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) one year ago after a balloon piloted by Lance Hopping hit powerlines on January 7, 2012.

The balloon burst into flames and crashed into a paddock on Somerset Rd, just north of Carterton, killing Mr Hopping and all 10 passengers.

Carterton hot air balloon crash
Friends and family members at the scene of the fatal hot air balloon crash on Somerset Rd in Carterton.
Carterton hot air balloon crash
Emergency services at the scene of the fatal hot air balloon crash on Somerset Rd in Carterton.
Carterton hot air balloon crash
Emergency services at the scene of the fatal hot air balloon crash on Somerset Rd in Carterton.
Carterton hot air balloon crash
Friends and family members at the scene of the fatal hot air balloon crash on Somerset Rd in Carterton.
Carterton hot air balloon crash
Friends and family members at the scene of the fatal hot air balloon crash on Somerset Rd in Carterton.
Lance Hopping
Lance Hopping, who was flying the balloon when it crashed.
Balloon Bevan Lambess
Bevan Lambess, witness to the horror crash.
Balloon Bevan Lambess
The scene of the crash from the air.
Balloon police gallery
Police talk to media at the scene of a horrific balloon crash near Carterton. From left to right: Wellington District commander Superintendent Mike Rusbatch and Wairarapa area commander Inspector Brent Register.
Balloon police gallery
The site of the crash being photographed from a fire.
Balloon Scene Forensic
The scene of the fatal balloon accident in Somerset Rd, Carterton.
Balloon grieving
Relatives at the scene of the fatal Carterton air balloon crash.
Balloon grieving
A woman places flowers at the scene of the fatal Carterton air balloon crash.
Balloon grieving
Nurses Jacqui O'Connor and Annette Tempest were among the first on the scene of the fatal hot air balloon disaster on Somerset Rd in Carterton, Wairarapa.
Balloon Crash
A man talks to police officers at the scene of the fatal balloon crash in Carterton.
Balloon Crash
People leave the scene of the hot air balloon crash, near Carterton.
Deputy chief investigator for TAIC (Transport Accident Investigation Commission) Peter Williams, left, Police Area commander Inspector Brent Register, and Nathan Guy at Saturday's press conference regarding the fatal balloon accident near Carterton.
Deputy chief investigator for TAIC (Transport Accident Investigation Commission) Peter Williams, left, Police Area commander Inspector Brent Register, and Nathan Guy at Saturday's press conference regarding the fatal balloon accident near Carterton.
Ron Mark
Carterton mayor Ron Mark at Saturday's press conference.
Flowers being placed on Somerset Road near the site of the fatal balloon crash.
Flowers being placed on Somerset Road near the site of the fatal hot air balloon crash.
An onlooker took this photo moments before the fatal crash near Carterton.
An onlooker took this photo only moments before the fatal crash near Carterton.
Lance Robert Hopping, 50, was to marry long-time partner Nina Jane Kelynack at Easter weekend.
Lance Robert Hopping, 50, was to marry long-time partner Nina Jane Kelynack at Easter weekend.
Grief Carterton balloon crash
Friends and family at the scene of Saturday's hot air balloon tragedy at Carterton.
Balloon accident victim Alexis Still.
Alexis Still.
Balloon scene
Police at the scene of the balloon crash which killed 11 people.
Balloon scene two
Two of the three tents covering the area where the balloon crashed.
Wairarapa Area Commander Brent Register talks to media.
Wairarapa Area Commander Brent Register talks to media during a briefing on investigations into the fatal balloon crash.
TAIC communications manager Peter Northcote.
TAIC communications manager Peter Northcote.
Parents of crash vitim Alexis Still, Allan and Vivienne Still with her two older siblings Ben, 22, and Emma-Jane, 24.
Parents of crash vitim Alexis Still, Allan and Vivienne Still with her two older siblings Ben, 22, and Emma-Jane, 24.
Balloon basket
A TAIC picture points to where the fuel supply later burst.
balloon tragedy graphic
The path of the balloon and the place where it crashed.

TAIC spokesman Peter Northcote said the investigation was now "well into the analysis stage", but would not be ready until "mid-year".

"When this work is completed in the next two to three months, formal consultations will commence with the various parties involved before the commission [confirms] and releases its final report."

The final report is likely to include analysis of the established facts, plus recommendations on how a future tragedy could be avoided.

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Balloon memorial
Carterton-Balloons over Wairarapa Mass Ascension and Tribute Flight at Carrington Park in Carterton. Due to the wind they did not fly.
Balloon memorial
Mourners at the Carterton-Balloons over Wairarapa Mass Ascension and Tribute Flight at Carrington Park in Carterton.
Balloon memorial
Mourners at the Carterton-Balloons over Wairarapa Mass Ascension and Tribute Flight at Carrington Park in Carterton. Merle Hopkirk holds a white helium balloon.
Balloon memorial
Nina Kelynack fiancee of pilot Lance Hopping who died in the accident is hugged by balloon photographer Geoff Walker who captured the fatal accident.

Lower Hutt man Bob Hopkirk, whose son, Stephen, died in the crash, said he expected some recommendations to target the use of cannabis, after traces were found in Hopping's blood.

"But you can make rules and whether people stick to them is another thing."

Stephen Hopkirk had received the balloon ride as a 50th birthday present from his partner, Belinda Harter, who was also killed.

Families had been kept well-informed by TAIC as to the timeframe, Hopkirk said.

While he welcomed the final report, it would not "do much" for the families involved.

"It's a little bit 'So what' really. We've got a pretty good idea of what happened and you can use your imagination a bit too."

An interim report released by TAIC in May detailed the movements of the balloon during its fateful flight, and used photographs and witness accounts to piece together what had happened after impact with the powerlines.

It found that as the balloon prepared to land, it descended to within 5 metres of the ground, with relatives of some of the victims saying an "isolated gust of wind" had then caused the balloon to veer sharply toward the lines.

After becoming stuck, two passengers leapt from the burning basket before one of the powerlines snapped.

The balloon shot 150m into the air, then collapsed in flames.

The crash was the deadliest involving a New Zealand aircraft since the 1979 Erebus disaster.

The Dominion Post