World View Balloon Explosion “Independent Investigation” Is Lost In Space

World View balloon explosion

June 19, 2018, marks six months since the World View Spaceport hydrogen balloon explosion, and the promise of an independent investigation into the causes and damage.  World View was established by the Pima County Board of Supervisors floating a $15 million loan to build the facility and leasing it to World View.

The explosion, which broke ceiling tiles loose in Raytheon’s missile facility a mile away, was not reported in the media nor mentioned by the County until ADI published a video of the event.  With prompting by Supervisor Ally Miller, preliminary damage reports were made public in February, 2018.  While County Administrator Charles Huckelberry minimized the damage as “superficial,” independent knowledgeable observers looked at the reports and photos and concluded that the explosion resulted in considerably more than superficial damage.

An “independent investigation” by an “accident review board” led by NASA retiree Wayne Hale of Special Aeronautic Services in Colorado was commissioned by World View, with the participation of its landlord, Pima County, in the person of Assistant County Administrator John Voorhees.  That investigation has been completed and a draft report sent to the county, but won’t be made public, according to Voorhees, for “another month or so.”

Everyone involved is being closemouthed about the report and its findings.  Hale’s assistant, Yvith Murphy, told us that they “can’t comment”, that World View would have to answer ADI’s questions.  Emails to World View went unanswered.  World View’s web site has no mention of the explosion among its collection of news stories.

John Voorhees returned our call to say that the investigation has been concluded and that the county was reviewing the draft.  He called it a “slow-moving ballgame,” noting that the county, “as landlords, we have to be deliberate and careful.”  Voorhees said that the report would be given to elected officials “after review” and at that point it would become a public document.  Supervisor Ally Miller has directed a number of questions to the County Administrator and, because of crowded agendas and July 4 holiday absences, expects to get answers at the August 7 BOS meeting.

This “slow-moving ballgame” inevitably raises some disturbing questions.  If there is a “draft” report that is under review by the county and that review will take another “month or so,” what is going on?  Experience suggests that the draft report is being rewritten, at least in part, to fit the perceived needs of the County Administrator who has been championing World View from the beginning.  That is very different from the report being “made available to Pima County for our information and comment,” as Huckelberry stated in his February 8 memo to the Supervisors.

The World View saga has emerged as a signal case of misuse of county administrator power and taxpayer dollars.  The Board of Supervisors, in January, 2016, agreed to borrow $15 million for World View to build its factory and launch facility.  With interest on the loan, the total cost to taxpayers is about $20 million, to be repaid as rent.  Huckelberry promises a profit for the county in 20 years.

The Goldwater Institute sued Pima County in April, 2016, charging that state laws about competitive bidding had been violated in the World View case.  A Superior Court judge agreed and in February, 2017, voided the lease agreement.  An Appeals Court reversed that in December, 2017, just three days before the explosion.

World View’s chief accomplishment, if measured by news reports, was launching a Kentucky Fried Chicken sandwich to the edge of space.  They did not launch it from “Spaceport Tucson,” however, but from a site in Page.  They have downplayed their initial hype about “space tourism” and $75,000 trips up, up and away, and have attracted nearly $50 million in investment income.

World View has stiff competition.  There are now eight U.S. commercial spaceports, located in California, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Florida, and Alaska, with another one on the way in Texas.  According to the World View “Newsroom” on its website, the latest news, an April 30, 2018, article in Aerospace America, is that the company is still testing its balloons and figuring out how to overcome obstacles.  No mention of explosions.

Related articles:

Video Shows World View Explosion Sending Flames Into The Sky

Huckelberry And World View – Lost In Space With A Big Oops!

FAA Grants Certificate Of Waiver For World View Inaugural Launch

Balloon Leak Grounds World View KFC Publicity Stunt

Pima County Leaders Went To Great Lengths To Send KFC Into Stratosphere With World View

Pima County Taxpayers Spent Over $800,000 On World View Equipment, Furnishings

Pima County World View Spending Balloons Despite Court Ruling


  1. Has it been six months? Coverups depend on us citizens forgetting. The power of prayer will save this county. If you have never prayed before, just ask God to change the direction of this county. Ask Him with a sincere heart. It doesn’t matter how you say it, just believe that after you ask, He heard your prayer and trust that He will direct the change. “We have not because we ask not.” James 4:2 Yes, it really is that simple. Don’t ever say you prayed for something or someone and then fail to do it because you become a liar. Thank you to all the citizens who believe and ask Him for help.

  2. How abut using some of that “investment income” to repay the taxpayers now?

    And jdfast: which other “hellhole of cronyism and corruption” will you be going to in October? Mosquitoes from the swamp are everywhere, and they are bipartisan along with being blood-hungry.

  3. This report will disappear just like our road repair money in Pima County.

    “When balloons are outlawed, only outlaws will have balloons.”

  4. Independent investigation? In Pima County? With ALL of the corrupt Democrats in office and the residents of Pima County Too Stpid to vote for anyone else but the same people over and over again? Fat chance of that ever truly happening and even if it did the Huckster would just use one of his cronies to conduct it.

  5. Thank You to the Arizona Daily Independent for uncovering this information. I had no idea a preliminary report had been submitted to Pima County. Speaks volumes doesn’t it? Fascinating that Huckelberry isn’t sharing with this supervisor. I agree the report should stand on it’s own…without edits.

    • Hang in there Ally, you are the only one with any sanity of the board. Is it any wonder the Huckster wants so badly to get rid of you? How about his pie in the say BILLION DOLLAR BOND issue for the roads. Might want to ask what happened to the HURF funds and how much of them the last 10+ years were used for salaries, bond debt repayment and other crap associated with the crap roads. Bet it will be over 90% allocated to the bureaucrats and their salaries.

    • Thank you Ally, you are the lone voice of reason on the board.
      Your resistence isn’t going unnoticed.

      The Oracle

    • As one of the taxpayers who helped pay for World View’s building against my wishes. I demand the full, unaltered report direct from the investigators. If it goes through Huckelberry’s hands, we can’t count on the actual facts reported. If it is going to take them a month to “adjust” this report, it is bound to be an eye opening report before it is watered down by the county administrator and his highly paid communications department.

  6. the defense department and industry now has plans for the balloon as published.. will this happen, is this an industry bail out for the family. Hard to tell, I’ve seen nothing since that publication – so as it is right now this is a Pima County White elephant.

  7. Ally Miller is the only sanity in the county. World View should have exploded in the faces of the other sups in the last election but the voters are too stupid.

  8. Tucson’s own Hindenberg brought to you by the same folks that broke the seal on Biosphere II for birth control, the corrupt cabal of liberals, King Huck and possibly the biggest benefactor of Tucson and Pima County corruption, Gabbie Giffords and her carpet bagger ringmaster, Mark Kelly.

  9. the county, “as landlords, we have to be deliberate and careful.”
    Yea, just like they rushed completion of the building before the lawsuit. They knew after the building was built, nothing would happen to them and unfortunately they were right. Pima county voters, you have such great representation that I simply want to throw up. Noting is too good for the Huckster and his cronies. Just ask Huck and his 3 1/2 dumbass board members. Now they want a sales tax to fix the roads. Its is doomed to failure. Then the Huckster then will want to put a bond for almost a billion dollars on the ballot for roads. You remember the last bond don’t you? The city wants to add 25% to the water bills of non Tucson residents that utilize Tucson water for an additional “revenue stream.” WTF people, you just going to lie down and take the ass kicking by the cronies and their enablers? I bet you do…. you always have before and this will be no different. October can’t get here quick enough so I can get the hell out of this hell hole of cronyism and corruption where the taxpayer doesn’t have a chance. Oh, and last but not least, how about the deseg funds that will be most likely attached to our secondary property tax without even a vote. You know, courtesy of Governor “one term” Douchy.

  10. The August meeting?
    I’m sure by that time, other then being on paper the “draft” won’t resemble the final report, and when it does come to public light it’ll have been so “Chucky-tized” that Becky Thatcher’s fence will have less white wash.
    The total lack of personal and professional integrity within the BOS and Dingleberry’s office is truly laughable.
    No waste of time is afforded in even trying to hide it from public view.

    The Oracle

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