Friends and family of two men killed when their high altitude hot air balloon plummeted to the ground have paid tribute to the tragic pair.
Experienced balloonist Lee Pibworth, 42, and 55-year-old scout master Allan Burnett died on New Year’s Day when the balloon crashed onto a bowling green in Midsomer Norton, Somerset after falling from 20,000ft.
It’s believed they were attempting to reach an altitude record when the tragedy happened. The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch are examining the crash scene.
The Scout Association paid tribute to the “inspirational” Allan Burnett.
A spokesperson for the organisation said: “Allan was a valued member of the Scouting Movement who had given over 30 years of adult service to Scouting.
“He was a larger than life individual who, as Group Scout Leader of the Blenheim Scout Group, been instrumental in the growth and development of Scouting within his local community.
“Allan was an inspirational leader and the driving force in the quest for a new Group Scout Headquarters, and the many and varied projects that Blenheim Scout Group were involved with.
“At this sad time, our thoughts and prayers are with Allan’s family and his many Scouting friends.”
In a family statement, the Burnetts said:
“Allan was a well loved and respected member of the local and wider community of South Bristol. Friends, neighbours and colleagues from the many organisations he was involved in, of which ‘The Blenheim Scout Group’ was his driving passion, were inspired by his dedication, strength and commitment.
“His enthusiasm, energy and vision to create a better future for the youth of the area touched many lives, and his death will leave a huge gap in the community.
“The family would like to thanks all friends, neighbours and colleagues for their continued support during this time of need.”
Mr Pibworth’s devastated brother Wayne, 46, said: ”Ballooning was his life. He had previously worked for Cameron Balloons, was very experienced and never took any risks.
”If the conditions weren’t perfect, he wouldn’t go up. He’d go ballooning half a dozen times a year and I have been fortunate to go up with him on a number of occasions.
”It was always a really tranquil experience. I didn’t realise he had gone up that day until I saw it on the news.
”The moment they mentioned high altitude, I knew it was Lee – it was terrible.
”Lee was very adventurous. He loved outdoor activities and he was a family man and father to eight-year-old Jamie.
”He was a wonderful man and he’ll be sorely missed.”
Lee Pibworth’s father Frederick, 71, said his son and co-pilot Mr Burnett had originally planned to take the balloon to high altitude on Christmas Day but had postponed due to poor weather.
He said: ”Lee had adventure in him. He said this was something he wanted to do – fly the balloon at altitude.”
A family statement added: “Lee was a loving husband, father, Son and brother. Lee’s great passion for the past nine years was flying balloons. This passion, sadly not only brought about his sudden and tragic death, but also that of his great` friend Allan Burnett on New Years day.
“Lee was a well qualified, skilled and respected pilot and had previously flown in many countries across Europe and also in America. He loved the outdoors working as a tree surgeon and spent much of his spare time exercising his four Springer Spaniels.
“We can take little comfort from knowing that Lee died doing what he loved doing that was flying. His loss has left a big hole in all of our hearts and he will be truly missed by every one that knew him.”
LEAVE YOUR TRIBUTES TO LEE PIBWORTH AND ALLAN BURNETT BELOW