US Open (golf)

Horror crash: blimp bursts into flames and plummets to the ground at US Open

Golf stars and fans at Erin Hills course in Wisconsin stunned as they watch aircraft fall from sky near the venue

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 June, 2017, 12:31pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 June, 2017, 9:29pm

A blimp hovering above the US Open caught fire and crashed, leaving its pilot with burns after it plummeted to earth before horrified players and spectators on Thursday.

Golf stars and fans at Erin Hills Golf Course in Wisconsin looked on in disbelief as the aircraft could be seen falling from the sky near the venue.

Airsign, the company managing the blimp said the pilot was being treated for injuries “but is expected to be okay”.

Local law enforcement said the pilot suffered burns in the crash.

Airsign officials later refuted eyewitness accounts suggesting the pilot had parachuted from the aircraft, saying he remained on board throughout the ordeal.

The drama was witnessed by several players as they progressed through the opening round of their tournament.

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“I was teeing off and I looked up and saw it on fire, and I felt sick to my stomach,” American Jamie Lovemark said. “I had the shakes. I felt terrible for the people inside. I didn’t know what was going on. It was a horrible sight.

“I hope the guys got out okay. It was a horrific scene. I’ve never seen a plane crash, blimp crash, anything like that. It was pretty awful.”

World number 55 Charley Hoffman also witnessed the incident.

“I was sitting on the seventh tee and my caddie goes, ‘Look at that thing, just blew up.’ And it was going down through the air,” Hoffman said.

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“I didn’t see it explode, but it definitely just happened when he tapped me on the shoulder. So I saw it fluttering down through the sky.”

Brandt Snedeker said he had been alerted to the accident by his caddie.

“He said ‘The blimp is not looking good.’ I guess it was nose down. I saw a puff of black smoke. I didn’t know it was the blimp,” Snedeker said.

The incident happened at around 11.55am with the opening round of the season’s second major under way at Erin Hills.

A statement from the US Golf Association confirming details of the crash said the blimp was not affiliated with the tournament or the US Open broadcast.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the pilot at this time.”