AFRCC responds to balloon chase in Colorado
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Air Force Rescue Coordination Center personnel here responded to calls for assistance when a hot air balloon, believed to be ‘piloted’ by a 6-year old boy, broke free from its tethers and flew haphazardly through the skies near Denver today.
At approximately 1:25 p.m. Central Time, the AFRCC received a call from Larimer County Sheriff’s Office to provide aerial assistance and support to the errant balloon. Rescuers were initially unsure what measures would be taken, but helicopters from the Colorado National Guard were dispatched to the airspace where the balloon was soaring.
An OH-58 Kiowa helicopter flew to provide aerial support, and a UH-60 Black Hawk was scrambled with rescue capabilities in the event an airborne rescue was required.
The helicopters arrived in the vicinity of the balloon just minutes before the balloon impacted the ground south of Denver at 2:36 p.m. Central Time. Once local law enforcement and ground rescue crews secured the scene, the helicopters returned to their home base at Fort Carson, Colo.
“For years, AFRCC has dealt with numerous types of rescue situations, but this one was a first for us,” said Lt. Col. Chuck Tomko, AFRCC commander. “We had countless trained professionals here and in Colorado doing a lot of data and number ‘crunching’ as this situation was unfolding to figure out different ways to assist with the rescue effort.”
At the time of release, the location and whereabouts of the missing 6-year old boy are still unknown. AFRCC personnel are standing by in the event officials require additional rescue services from the Air Force.
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