VIDEO: Blimp catches fire at U.S. Open at Erin Hills

Click here for photos from the scene | Watch coverage from the scene where the blimp landed.

A blimp flying above the U.S. Open in the Town of Erin, Wis. has caught fire and crashed.

The photo taken by TODAY'S TMJ4's Chopper 4 shows what appears to be a large deflated object which was partially burned.

A truck transported the pilot from the scene - about a mile from Erin Hills, the site of the Open - to Flight for Life, which took the injured pilot to Froedtert Hospital. Only the pilot was hurt.

A Washington County Sheriff's spokesperson says the pilot had severe burns, which was confirmed by the president of AirSign, the owner of the blimp.

"We're grateful that the pilot is alive," said Patrick Walsh, the president, who said the burns were second-degree after the pilot rode the blimp to the ground.

"It didn't appear there were any life-threatening injuries. He was talking...I heard him in the background as I was talking to the crew chief. He was conveying messages to his wife."

He added that the pilot wore a fireproof flight suit. :That probably protected him as well," said Walsh.

A witness said the blimp caught fire and within two minutes, it hit the ground. No other person was on the blimp, a smaller one than what fans normally see on television.

The County Sheriff's spokesperson said that the aircraft caught fire at about 11:15 a.m.

These videos captured the scene at Erin Hills. (WARNING: Graphic language on some of these.)

One video shows the blimp reaching near the ground.

One video shows what the photographer thought was a parachuter landing, believing it to be the pilot.

Another view:

The USGA said the blimp was not affiliated with the tournament. 

"The initial investigation reveals the blimp may have experienced mechanical problems prior to the crash.  The Sheriff’s Office has been in contact with both the Federal Aviation Administration as well as the National Transportation Safety Bureau to assist with the onsite investigation," said the County Sheriff's office.

"The advertising blimp had been airborne for several hours prior to the incident and the Sheriff’s Office had been in contact with FAA representatives earlier in the day and determined the aircraft was lawfully operating at the proper altitude."

 

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