Blimp Catches Fire, Crashes at U.S. Open Golf Tournament

The pilot rode the blimp to the ground, but is expected to be all right.

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

An advertising blimp caught fire and crashed during the first round of the U.S. Open Golf Tournament on Thursday morning, plummeting slowly out of the Wisconsin sky in front of thousands of gathered spectators.

The pilot—the sole occupant of the lighter-than-air vehicle—survived the crash, a spokesperson for the blimp's operator AirSign told The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal, but suffered some burns and needed to be airlifted from the crash site by Flight for Life in order to receive medical attention. 

In spite of some bystander reports that a man was seen parachuting from the blimp as it fell, he in fact stayed with the airship all the way to the ground, AirSign's spokesperson told the Journal-Sentinal. A crewmember on terra firma then reportedly extricated him from the wreck. 

In a tweet, the company stressed that the pilot was expected to be fine.

In spite of its presence near the notable tournament—one of the four majors championships that make up the top tier of international golf competition—the blimp, which was promoting federal credit union PenFed, was not affiliated with the U.S. Open, according to a statement released by the tournament's organizers on Twitter.

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel