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Complaints about NZ balloon pilot revealed

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NEW Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority was told pilot Lance Hopping was too "pissed and/or high" to fly a balloon more than a year before he was one of 11 killed in a disaster, it has been revealed.




HOWEVER, an inquest into the tragedy was told the CAA did not conduct a safety review into Mr Hopping but decided instead to monitor him.


The details emerged in a CAA report - undertaken two months after the crash at Carterton, in the lower North Island region of NZ - which was presented by Alastair Sherriff, a lawyer for some of the victims' families.


Apart from the complaint about a flight being called off because Mr Hopping was too impaired to fly one day, there were also allegations he sold cannabis at a bar he worked at.


Under questioning from Mr Sherriff, Chris Ford from the CAA agreed nobody would have flown in a balloon piloted by Mr Hopping if the complaints had been made public.


He agreed the CAA had decided to take no action except monitoring Mr Hopping.


Mr Ford also agreed Mr Hopping had cheated by bringing an unauthorised notebook into a flying exam in the 1980s.


An earlier crash investigation by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission found Mr Hopping had cannabis in his system and was a regular user, although it could not be determined whether that had impaired his judgment.


TAIC said pilot errors were ultimately responsible for the tragedy in which everyone aboard the flight on January 7, 2012 died after the balloon struck power lines.


Earlier on Tuesday, one of the victim's daughters, Fiona Rouse, cried as she recounted how she lost her father, Des Dean, 70, and her mother Ann, 65, in the crash.


"It still feels like a bad dream," she said.


"There needs to be changes in the industry as this accident and many others around the world shows how dangerous these types of flights can be.


"Had the pilot been drug-tested ... the ramifications of these simple checks are endless."


The inquest continues in Wellington.



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That's shocking. You really wonder the next time you get onto or into something -where your life is held in the hands of a single individual- if she or he has had too much weed or firewater.



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Those drug test kits are pretty expensive so the selection of test subject is not completely random. It looks like the police performing the tests were getting a bit over 50% hit rate on the subjects they thought looked worth testing. Laurie



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Guest ozzie

Yes, the test subjects were mid twenties or younger, cheapish cars, "other side of the tracks" location. Several came up with both weed and MDA detection.


DUI and TXTing more dangerous?



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Funny how you see smokers in bombs and wonder what they could afford to be driving if they didn't smoke......

it the fact their broke , that causes stress , they smoke to ease the stress



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