The Latest: USGA says blimp crash at Open came in open field

A blimp crashes during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Thursday, June 15, 2017, near Erin Hills in Erin, Wis. AirSign, an advertising company, operates the blimp. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel

ERIN, Wis. (AP) The Latest on the crash of an advertising blimp at the U.S. Open (all times local):

2:15 p.m.

A woman who witnessed the crash of a small blimp near the Wisconsin golf course where the U.S. Open is underway says she saw flames as the aircraft deflated and floated to the ground.

Mary Ruediger was visiting her parents who live near Erin Hills golf course when the blimp went down nearby Thursday. Ruediger says she saw the blimp disappear behind the tree line, drove to another vantage point and saw black smoke along with three fireballs erupting after it hit the field. The 45-year-old Ruediger says first responders were quickly on the scene.

The pilot was the only person aboard. Washington County sheriff's officials say the pilot suffered serious burns and injuries. He was taken to the hospital by air.

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1:10 p.m.

Authorities in Wisconsin say the pilot of a small advertising blimp was seriously burned when the aircraft crashed at the U.S. Open golf tournament.

The man was the only person aboard when the craft went down shortly before midday at the Erin Hills golf course in Erin, Wisconsin. The blimp went down in an open field near the course.

A statement from the Washington County Sheriff's Office says the pilot was taken to a hospital by medical helicopter.

The statement says the blimp was on fire or smoking and went down rapidly. The Sheriff's Office asked the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board to help investigate the cause.

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12:55 a.m.

A witness to the crash of a small advertising blimp at the U.S. Open says the side of the blimp started deflating and it caught fire as it headed toward the ground.

Tim Guetzke described what he saw to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as the craft went to ground Thursday.

The company that operates the blimp says the only person aboard, the pilot, was ''OK,'' but being taken to a hospital. No one else was hurt as the craft went down in a field about a half-mile from the Erin Hills golf course in Erin, Wisconsin.

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12:40 p.m.

An official with the company operating an advertising blimp at the U.S. Open says the pilot is ''OK'' after the craft crashed but that he is being taken to a hospital.

Justin Maynard, a sales manager for Florida-based AirSign, says the company's operations team on the ground reported on the pilot's status.

He says he has no additional information on the crash that happened during the tournament's opening round in Erin, Wisconsin.

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12:25 p.m.

The U.S. Golf Association says an advertising blimp that crashed at the U.S. Open went down in an open field about half a mile from the Erin Hills golf course.

The USGA statement says the pilot is being treated for unknown injuries and that no other people were involved.

The Open, one of golf's four majors, opened play Thursday at the course in Erin, Wisconsin.

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12:12 p.m.

A blimp flying over the U.S. Open has gone down and the aircraft's operator says he doesn't know if the pilot is alive.

Justin Maynard is a sales manager for AirSign, the advertising company that operates the blimp.

Maynard says only the pilot was on board the craft. He says the company's operations team on the ground confirmed citizen video on social media showing the blimp going down.

Maynard says he is ''not 100 percent'' on the condition of the pilot but that believes he is alive.

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