Hot-Air Balloon Pilot Killed in Crash from Kent County
DOVER, Del. - The pilot of a hot-air balloon that crashed in Virginia, killing him and two other people, was from Kent County, Del.
Capt. Daniel T. Kirk lived and worked in Hartly with his wife. His parents, Donald and Verna Kirk, live in nearby Dover.
Kirk operated a balloon business, Starship Adventures LLC. On Friday, his balloon drifted into a power line, burst into flames and fell onto a heavy wooded area 25 miles north of Richmond, Va. Two University of Richmond basketball coaches who were riding in the balloon also died in the crash. They were director of basketball operations Natalie Lewis and associate head coach Ginny Doyle.
Donald and Verna Kirk said they were very proud of their son, who was also an Army veteran.
"I'd flown with him a lot and he was a very safe pilot, he served his country for 30 something years and retired back in Delaware here to be near us," Donald Kirk, 86, said. "Of course we think we was an amazing son, ballooning was the love of his life, and this accident had to happen and I guess we have to accept it."
The day before the tragic accident, Daniel Kirk delivered roses as an early Mother's Day present to his mom.
Verna Kirk, 89, said thinking back on it, she is shocked he brought them just before he passed away. She said she is thankful she got to spend time with him.
"If I needed him I called him and he would be here if at all possible," Donald Kirk said. "Anything that I needed done he would come." Donald Kirk also said he rode in the balloon with his son over 40 times and enjoyed every minute of it.
"He loved it, he loved it, and that's the greatest feeling I have that he was doing what he loved," he said. "We could go out here tomorrow and be in an automobile accident, and that was an accident but he was actually doing what he loved."
Capt. Daniel Kirk was in his late 60s and had two children.