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Local Hot Air Balloon Pilots Stand Behind Sport’s Safety Following Tragedy

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INDIANOLA, Iowa -- The National Transportation Safety Board says Saturday’s hot air balloon crash in Texas is the deadliest balloon crash in U.S. history.

Investigators say a hot air balloon hit power lines, before catching fire and going down 30 miles south of Austin Saturday morning. The crash killed 15 passengers and the pilot.

Local balloon pilots say the sport may look easy but it’s quite the opposite.

“You have to put in the work and there is a lot of responsibility on your shoulders when you're there,” says Tim Cloyd, a nine-year pilot veteran.

Cloyd is a licensed pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration. He says he underwent ten hours of instructional teaching, was tested multiple times and eventually had to successfully complete a solo flight before being certified.

However, after the hot air balloon tragedy in Texas, many are questioning the activity's safety. In 2014, the NTSB recommended ballooning regulations be stricter in order to prevent accidents and save lives. The FAA ended up shooting down those suggestions.

Cloyd stands by the sports safety.

“We have had thousands of people who have flown, tens of thousands of flights and safe flights," says Coyd. "No one should be afraid of what happened.”

The accident didn’t keep hundreds of spectators and riders away from the National Balloon Classic in Warren County.

“Accidents happen," says Gary Kron. "I’m not worried. I’m just looking to have a good time."

As for pilots like Cloyd, he says if there is something to learn from the tragedy, “treat each flight like it's your first.”

“Every flight can be different, so you need to go into it on your game, don`t be compliant and know that anything can happen," Cloyd added.

Since 1964, the NTSB has investigated 775 hot air balloon accidents, during that time span there have been 70 deaths.

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