Fishers, IN Hot Air Balloon Accident, Aug 1978


Fishers, Ind. (UPI) -- Three persons, a woman and two men, were killed Tuesday night in a fiery hot-air balloon accident near this Hamilton County community about 15 miles northeast of Indianapolis, police said.
Indiana State Police investigators said the deaths occurred when the balloon caught fire after it bacame entangled in high-voltage power lines while attempting to land in a soybean field.
Indiana State Police identified the victims as ELIZABETH DOMONT, 31, Indianapolis, pilot of the balloon; MICHAEL A. KELLY, 30, Bloomington, and JAMES E. KOHS, 44, Indianapolis.
All three victims suffered extensive burns in addition to other injuries, police said.
Indiana State Police Sgt. Claude Zook witnessed the tragedy and said he saw a man and a woman jump from the balloon from a height of about 100 feet after the pilot apparently freed the burning craft from the electrical wires and began an ascent.
Authorities said the third victim plunged to earth about one-half mile away minutes later in the smoldering gondola which separated from the air-filled canopy after flames burned through the ropes holding the basket.
The main part of the balloon deflated and landed another mile from the gondola, troopers said.
Zook, who was off duty and driving in a car accompanied by his wife, said the basket carrying the third victim must have fallen about 200 feet.
The ill-fated craft was one of four in a leisure flying formation. One of the balloons had landed in a field and the second craft then attempted to set down. State Police indicated the pilot either had a problem or apparently failed to see the power lines as he descended.
Sparks were visible almost immediately and witnesses also said they saw what appeared to be an explosion. Troopers said that might have been a gas bottle used to heat the air to keep the craft flying.
Besides state police, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board was asked to investigate.

Pharos Tribune Logansport Indiana 1978-08-30


James is/was the brother of

James is/was the brother of Dorothy Kohls Cobb. I was her boyfriend at the time, and I remember seeing the news report of this on the ABC Evening News (short 10 second report before commercial). Dorothy lived in Oakland, CA at the time, and she was devastated by the loss. I stayed behind to watch her apartment and her 2 cats ("Juniper" and "Simoniz"). She was gone for 2 weeks, and came back depressed for awhile.

I only mention as Dorothy passed away last year (Jan 2014), having lived near Wiamea (on the big island in HI) since her late 30's. I have a lot of good memories with her. I'll miss her a lot.

Third victim's name

The third victim's name listed in the article above is incorrect. His name was JAMES E. KOHLS (the L is missing above). Both Liz and Jim were friends of mine.