Details have emerged about pilot and the company involved in the hot air balloon crash that killed at least 16 people Saturday morning in Central Texas.
The pilot who was flying the balloon was Skip Nichols, News 8 confirmed. Nichols, who lists a title of “Chief Pilot” on his Facebook page, is also the owner of Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides.
Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides’ registered address according to the Better Business Bureau is in New Braunfels, between San Antonio and Austin. The company also has Austin and San Marcos locations listed online and provided rides around south and central Texas.
Up to 24 people are allowed on a balloon flight, according to the company's website.
Nichols posted videos of several balloon flights to his Facebook page.
Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides is not accredited by the BBB and has a D+ rating. Six complaints have been filed, primarily regarding canceled flights.
Dean Carlton, president of the Balloon Federation of America, said accidents typically occur due to a variety of factors, including wind, weather and crashing into power lines.
Initial indications were that the balloon caught fire in mid-air, hit high-voltage power lines and fell to the ground. Witnesses told News 8 they heard explosions as the balloon approached.
FAA and NTSB officials will investigate whether Saturday’s crash was due to a mechanical error or a pilot error.