Three dead after British-made hot air balloon blown up following crash into high-voltage power lines

Three dead after British-made hot air balloon blown up following crash into high-voltage power lines

The British-made balloon crashed into power lines in the country's east, killing all three on board

Mtavari TV
James Saunders

By James Saunders

Published: 08/02/2024

- 20:52

Updated: 08/02/2024

- 21:24

Families and officials paid tribute to the tragic air pioneers

A hot air balloon set to be the first to circumnavigate Georgia has crashed into a high-voltage power line, killing all three people on board.

The vessel had taken off from a football stadium in the port city of Poti on Georgia’s Black Sea coast with the aim of crossing the country to reach the inland city of Dedoplistskaro.

But the balloon crashed near Asureti, around two-thirds of the way into its planned route.

Video footage shows the moment the balloon crashed into power lines, with the craft bursting into flame on impact.

Composite image of the balloon crash and the three crew members

The crew of the ill-fated balloon: Misho Bidzinashvili, Revaz Uturgauri and Krzysztof Zapart (clockwise from top)

Facebook/Mtavari TV

On board the balloon were Georgians Revaz Uturgauri and Misho Bidzinashvili, and the Polish Krzysztof Zapart.

Bidzinashvili worked as an operator at Georgia’s Imedi TV channel, which expressed its sorrow over the tragedy.

Uturgauri was the president of the National Aeronautics Federation of Georgia, and had posted images of the flight online.

His daughter Iren expressed her love on social media, saying: “He left with a smile, doing his very beautiful, beloved job and left me on the ground.”


Revaz Uturgauri and Krzysztof Zapart

Revaz Uturgauri (right) posted this photo of him and Krzysztof Zapart from the voyage to Facebook


Zapart was a prolific balloonist, and Jarosław Rudnicki, vice-chairman of the Dzierżoniów City Council, paid tribute to him online, saying: “Today it didn’t work out… Krzysztof, soar through the sky in your balloon… I will never forget you.”

The Polish Embassy in Georgia expressed condolences for the three victims; in a statement today, it said: “We also extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the Polish citizen Krzysztof Zapart and persons accompanying him: Revaz Uturgauri, and Misho Bidzinashvili, who died yesterday in the balloon crash near Asureti.”

Georgia’s Civil Aviation Agency (CAA) said: “The Cameron Balloons Z-315 hot air balloon, flying from Poti to Vashlovani National Park, was involved in the incident. There were three people on board.

“The relevant agency approved the flight plan, and the balloon, manufactured in Great Britain in 2022 and registered as 4L-BAV in the State Register of Civil Aircraft of Georgia the same year, was operated by certified pilots by the Georgian CAA and the Aviation Authority of Poland.

“The CAA had conducted all necessary checks on the balloon.

“The Aviation Accident and Incident Investigation Bureau are currently investigating the accident, and, at this stage, the CAA is not authorized to disclose further details.

“The agency expresses its condolences to the families of the victims and conveys its sorrow over the incident.”

The balloon crash marks the second tragedy in the last two days for the country after a landslide in the village of Nergeti, burying four houses and killing at least eight according to reports.

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