The father of the Carterton
balloon crash pilot doesn't believe his son smoked cannabis
before the fatal flight, and says investigators had to find a
A Transport Accident Investigation Commission's (TAIC)
report, released today, found pilot Lance Hopping had likely
smoked cannabis shortly before the flight on January 7 last
Two witnesses said they saw the 53-year-old smoking before
the flight, and toxicology results found he had 2 micrograms
of cannabis per litre of blood, which was consistent with
smoking cannabis 4-6 hours prior.
The pilot's elderly father, Hawkes Bay man Robert Hopping,
has not seen the report - but he did not think his son would
have smoked cannabis before the flight.
"They've said these things, but you've got to remember too
that he was a member of a pub where it was smoked. You've
only got to walk through the room and it stays in your system
for a week."
Mr Hopping said he would "naturally" be disappointed if his
son had smoked cannabis.
"As any parent would be."
He had been told other theories about the crash.
"I think the conditions at the time were unusual, according
to one of his other balloonists that knew him well. So
whatever happened, I don't know, and I still don't - I've
never seen the report or anything."
Asked if he would like to see the TAIC report, Mr Hopping
said it was all "cut and dried now".
"They've got to find a scapegoat."
Asked whether his son had been made a scapegoat, he said: "I
don't know, but it makes you get that opinion, when I don't
even get consulted about anything."
Mr Hoping said nobody from the TAIC or police had been in
"I've not even been in touch with anyone in officialdom, no.
They've never even bothered to ask or ring or anything."
The news he got came from family members.
"Of course it's been upsetting. We're still bloody
Mr Hopping said it was "too late now".
"We're trying to get over these things, not to dive back into
that again. It's been hard enough as it is."