Wirestrike Accident HB Balloons Gas Balloon HB-BIW, Thursday 6 June 1968
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Date:Thursday 6 June 1968
Type:Silhouette image of generic BALL model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
HB Balloons Gas Balloon
Registration: HB-BIW
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Donauturm, Wien (Vienna) -   Austria
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:Donauturm, Wien (Vienna), Austria
Destination airport:
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
HB-BIW: HB Balloons Gas Balloon, named "Albis". Written off (damaged beypond repair) in a ballooning accident in 1968.

At a meeting of Pro Juventute on 6 June 1968, four gas balloons were launched from a meadow at Donauturm. While three of them floated past the tower, the fourth was driven against the tower, where it was initially hung on the security grills, at an height of approximately 150 metres. The balloon net tore and the balloon envelope broke free. The remnants of the net and the basket fell to the ground. The American balloonist Francis Shields died, along with two Austrian passengers: a higher official of the Austrian Post and Telegraph Management, Guntram Pammer, and journalist Dieter Kasper of the Austrian Press agency."

According to a brief biography of Francis Shields, the pilot of HB-BIW (see link #9):

"Francis Shields and Bob Trauger both had their ballooning careers cut tragically short, Shields after just 14 years and Trauger after only 5. Both died in ballooning accidents in 1968 a mere three months apart.

Francis Shields of Green Ridge, Pennsylvania, was a gas balloonist who earned his license in 1954. He was an early member and would serve as president of the Balloon Club of America. His peers included Don Piccard, Tony Fairbanks, Peter Pellegrino and Constance Wolfe. With Pellegrino he would serve as technical advisor for the filming of the movie Around the World in Eighty Days. He logged more than 100 gas flights and was one of the most active American pilots in international competition.

One of his more memorable flights occurred on January 9, 1968 when he and Pellegrino piloted La Coquette (the balloon used in the 1956 movie 'Around the World in Eighty Days') to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the first flight of Pierre Blanchard in America. A photo of the launch of that flight was the first cover photo ever for the new Balloon Federation of America's premier issue of BALLOONING JOURNAL in Spring 1968.

Shields and two passengers would die just a few months later on June 6, 1968. Launching on a flight in Vienna, Austria for the International Airmail Exhibition, Shield's balloon struck the 850 foot Danube Tower. At an altitude of about 500 feet, the envelope slipped from its severed net and fell back to the earth, taking the lives of Shields and two passengers. Those who knew him say he would have been a formidable leader in the then blossoming sport of hot air ballooning.

Bob Trauger died just three months later on September 18, 1968 when he and a passenger struck a power line. The accident occurred just after take-off on a promotional flight from Penndel, Pennsylvania. A balloonists for only a short five years, Trauger had made scores of ascensions and parachute drops in the famous Eddie Allen smoke balloon".


1. https://diepresse.com/service/wetter/index.do
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donauturm#Ballooning_accident_in_1968
3. https://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMKA8D_Danube_Tower_Balloon_Crash__Vienna_Austria
4. https://secretvienna.org/tragedy-and-thrills-the-donauturm/
5. http://versa.bmvit.gv.at/uploads/media/19680606_K_1050_3_35624.pdf
6. https://www.ballonregister.ch/?reg=biw
7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaznyF1KIWE
8. Mail carried on flight: http://crashmail.dk/wp-content/uploads/Z19680611-01a.jpg (dated 11 June, as mail was retrieved and re-posted).
9. https://bfa.net/shieldstrauger-award
10. https://swissair00-ch.translate.goog/a_Index/___b-a-l-l-o-n------i.-.html?_x_tr_sch=http&_x_tr_sl=de&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=sc [4 photos]

Revision history:

08-Dec-2016 20:47 Alpine Flight Added
06-Sep-2022 22:22 Dr. John Smith Updated [Date, Time, Aircraft type, Operator, Total occupants, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Source, Narrative, Category]
07-Sep-2022 19:45 Dr. John Smith Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Total occupants, Source, Narrative]
07-Sep-2022 19:48 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
07-Sep-2022 19:58 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]

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