Memorial service for balloon victims

A public memorial service is planned for victims of the Carterton hot-air balloon crash.

Taonga News   |  16 Jan 2012

A public memorial service is planned for victims of the Carterton hot-air balloon crash., as the community farewells the pilot killed earlier this month.

The hot-air balloon appeared to hit power lines in the Wairarapa region before catching fire and crashing in a Carterton field on January 7, killing the 10 passengers and the pilot.

The Rev Jenny Chalmers, vicar of Carterton's St Mark's Anglican Church, says a memorial service is planned for early next month, although a date has yet to be confirmed.

She has discussed the plans with Carterton Mayor Ron Mark, district councillors and other locals.

"We have decided to invite all the families of people who died in the balloon crash but we also want to honour the largely volunteer services that we have in Carterton that assisted on that day," Jenny Chalmers told AAP.

The service will be a chance for locals to mourn together, she says.

"There were a lot of people who saw the balloon on fire, who saw the accident."

The funeral of balloon pilot 53-year-old Lance Hopping was held at St Mark's today.

Mr Hopping, who also worked part-time as a truancy officer with Wairarapa schools, was well-known and respected in Carterton, where he was born and had lived all his life," Jenny Chalmers said.

"We think he's a hero and he was a person who was extraordinarily positive.

"He was positive in his job as a truant officer, he was positive in his ballooning, and he gave so much to this community."

In a statement last week, Mr Hopping's family described a man dedicated to his loved ones and the community.

He left behind his partner, Nina, three children and six grandchildren.

"Everyone in Carterton knew Hoppy and he will be greatly missed. He is gone too soon," his family said.

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