Early Thursday afternoon, a blimp floating over the U.S. Open at Erin Hills caught fire and crashed to the ground. Spectators who witnessed the blimp’s descent posted videos and photos to Twitter showing the blimp falling out of the sky and smoke curling over the horizon. The incident occurred around 11:15 a.m. CDT. The blimp landed in an open field outside the golf course grounds, according to a statement from the USGA.
The USGA tweeted the that blimp was unaffiliated with the U.S. Open or Fox Sports, and said that the pilot had been injured. In a statement the USGA reiterated that the blimp was not affiliated with the tournament. “First responders were quick to arrive at the scene and the pilot is currently being treated for unknown injuries,” it reads. “No other people were involved in the incident and local law enforcement is currently investigating. Our thoughts and prayers are with the pilot at this time.”
— U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) June 15, 2017
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the blimp was sponsored by PenFed Credit Union, who tweeted about the blimp’s travels over Erin Hills earlier today. According to the Journal, the blimp crashed in an area near Highway 83 and Highway 167, which is about a half mile from the course.
— GOLF.com (@golf_com) June 15, 2017
— Mark Rogers (@Markwcm) June 15, 2017
— Ben Engelstad (@BenEngelstad) June 15, 2017
— madison seigworth (@msiggyy) June 15, 2017
Update: Charley Hoffman saw the blimp descending from the sky during his round. The 40-year-old pro was playing the 7th hole when his caddie pointed it out in the sky. “I saw it happen. I was sitting on 7 tee and my caddie goes, look at that thing just blew up. And it was going down through the air. I didn’t see it explode, but it definitely was just happened when he tapped me on the shoulder. So I saw it fluttering down through the sky.”