A commercial blimp that was operating near the US Open golf championship crashed and burst into flames today. Some witnesses claim to have seen the pilot bailout but a spokesperson for the company that owns the blimp stated he stayed in it all the way to the ground and suffered burns.

The pilot is OK but suffered some burns, a spokesman for AirSign said in a telephone interview from the company’s Florida office. The company web site says it specializes in banner, blimps and sky writing.

“He stayed with the blimp until it went down,” the spokesman said, adding that a crew member on ground pulled the pilot from the wreckage.

“It started deflating, and then it started going down,” said Bryan Rosine. “They were trying to give it some throttle and it didn’t go up,” he said. “Then there was a bunch of kabooms and smoke clouds.”

Another witness, Tim Guetzke, said “the side started deflating. One side was going in. As it headed toward the ground, it caught fire.” – USA Today