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2 emergency landings, 1 crash in 2 years for pilot of blimp that went down near Erin Hills

ERIN -- The pilot of a blimp that crashed Thursday, June 15th near the U.S. Open, during the opening round of the golf tournament suffered serious injuries, including burns, investigators said. The CEO of AirSign identified the pilot as Trevor Thompson, and FOX6 News has learned something like this has happened to Thompson before.

According to WPHT, Thompson was forced to make an "unexpected landing" on May 20th, 2016 off Interstate 95 in Fishtown, Pennsylvania.

WPHT spoke with Thompson, who said his engine failed in the middle of a flight over Philadelphia.

“I knew I could land. It was a matter of finding a spot to land," Thompson told WPHT.

The engine failed a total of three times, Thompson said. Thompson and his passenger escaped injury.

And according to the New York Daily News, in November of 2015, Thompson made an emergency landing in Long Island after his blimp got caught up in high winds.

He had intended to fly the blimp over Long Island traffic headed to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

"I was flying for about two hours and the winds started to pick up,” he said. “I was a little concerned about my fuel reserves. The winds weren't doing what I needed them to do."

He brought the blimp down onto a school's baseball field, according to the New York Daily News.

After the incident, Thompson told the New York Daily News he was feeling "good," and he "put it down softly."

As for Thursday's crash in Wisconsin, sheriff's officials said a deputy at a security post reported seeing the "lighter than air" aircraft on fire, rapidly descending around 11:15 a.m.

The advertising blimp was being used at the U.S. Open, sheriff's officials said. The crash happened east of the grounds, in an open field. Hartford fire officials responded to the area near Highway 83 and Terry Road.

Officials with the Ashippun Fire Department had to use a utility-type vehicle to access the crash site, which was approximately .75 miles to the east of State Highway 83.

Both fire departments were staged at the U.S. Open and able to quickly respond, sheriff's officials said.

According to the CEO of AirSign, the company that owns the blimp, there was a "catastrophic failure" of the air ship's envelope, or the outer skin. They're not sure at this point why the failure happened. Patrick Walsh told FOX6 News "it's a very unfortunate situation" and it's something that "has never happened in their history."

Walsh confirmed one person was on the blimp at the time. He identified Thompson as the pilot. Walsh said he is "the most sought after pilot to fly this type of blimp model."

Flight for Life called out to area near Erin Hills after blimp went down

Thompson was able to climb out of the blimp. He did not parachute out, Walsh said.

A fire happened when the blimp crashed, Walsh said. An explosion was the result of the propane tanks bursting after the air ship crashed. The pilot was pulled away from the scene.

Flight for Life called out to area near Erin Hills after blimp went down

Thompson was burned, but not critically, Walsh said. He was taken to the hospital via Flight for Life for treatment of injuries not believed to be life-threatening.

Walsh is commending Thompson, applauding his expertise and thankful he survived.

"He is one of the most experienced blimp pilots in the United States and definitely the most experienced for this type," said Walsh.

The FAA and NTSB are now investigating. Officials with the Washington County Sheriff's Office said the FAA determined the aircraft was operating at the proper altitude.