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28th Jun 2023

Tributes pour in for airline pilot who died after homemade hot air balloon burst


By Charlie Herbert

“On the morning of Sunday 25th June, our Pilot Pete took one last flight, doing what he loved.”

Tributes have poured in for an “awesome” airline pilot who died when his hot air balloon plunged hundreds of feet to the ground.

Peter Gregory, 25, was flying over Ombersley, Worcestershire, at 6.20am on Sunday (June 25) alongside his brother when his balloon suddenly deflated.

Witnesses watched in horror as the blue balloon plummeted to the ground which became tangled in trees in Ombersley Court.

Today his devastated parents paid tribute to Gregory – known as ‘Pilot Pete’ – who they described as “driven and determined”.

They said: “Peter Gregory 25 years of living life to the full.

“On the morning of Sunday 25th June, our Pilot Pete took one last flight, doing what he loved.

“Be it in a hot air balloon or as an Airline Pilot, Peter’s passion for flying was something his family and friends could only admire and support him towards.

“When he set his heart to something, he’d never give up, he was driven and determined, and one could only watch on in awe.

“We will fly together again soon Pete. We love you.”

The family, from the Cotswolds, are being supported by police family liaison officers, and have asked for privacy.

Gregory had made the balloon in 15 days using tent fabric and a sewing machine, the MailOnline reports.

The tragedy happened on the same weekend as the first Worcester Balloon Festival, although Gregory’s craft was not connected to the event.

An event spokesperson said: “There was an incident this morning, under investigation, it wasn’t the festival it was independent.

“The festival finished last night, it was not connected to the festival.”

Firefighters, paramedics and police rushed to the scene on Sunday but were unable to save the 25-year-old who was declared dead at the scene.

A West Mercia Police spokesperson said: “At 6.20am this morning police received a call a hot air balloon had deflated and fallen to the ground near the A449 at Ombersley.

“The balloon fell to the ground in a field off Holt Fleet Road, near Ombersley Court. “Emergency services attended and unfortunately a man was pronounced dead by paramedics.

“The Air Accident Investigation Branch will now carry out an investigation.”

One witness said: “There were lots of balloons in the sky because it was clear and sunny despite being so early.

“Suddenly there was a flash and what looked like a fireball coming from a blue balloon and it just dropped like a stone.

“My wife heard terrible screaming and then silence.

“We called the emergency services but had difficulty getting through on the 999 number because it was down.

“We finally got through but it was just too high for anyone to survive. It was a terrible thing to see.”

The circumstances surrounding the incident are being invested by the Air Accident Investigation Branch.