Hot air balloon on Diamond Jubilee flight forced to crash land

By
Rob Preece

06:15 EST, 5 June 2012

|

08:23 EST, 5 June 2012

Sprawled across a road in a damaged heap, this stricken hot air balloon was forced to crash-land after narrowly missing rooftops and trees during a catastrophic Diamond Jubilee bank holiday flight.

The red and white balloon, with 16 people on board, had been flying so low over Bath, Somerset, that residents called the police because they feared it would crash into their homes.

It had to make an emergency landing, close to traffic, after a sudden drop of wind caused it to lose height.

Crash: The balloon had to make an emergency landing after a sudden drop of wind caused it to lose height

Crash: The balloon had to make an emergency landing after a sudden drop of wind caused it to lose height

Obstruction: Traffic is brought to a standstill as the balloon comes down close to the road

Obstruction: Traffic is brought to a standstill as the balloon comes down close to the road

The Bath Building Society craft, which had only recently been repaired after being damaged by fire, was seen flying close to buildings, trees and even a river shortly before 9pm yesterday.

It finally landed on a patch of grass close to Green Park Road in the city centre.

The dramatic moment was captured by photographer Stuart Woodward, who said the pilot had shown great skill to land the craft safely.

No one was injured and those on board, including couple Laura Camper and Richard Morris, were able to smile about it afterwards.

Mr Morris, 29, bought the £150 balloon ride for Ms Camper, 31, as a Christmas present.

The couple, who both work for a
recruitment firm in Bath, spent two-and-a-half hours in the balloon
circling the city before the dramatic crash landing.

Ms Camper said: ‘The balloon goes
wherever the wind takes it but there was hardly any breeze so we reached
4,000ft and stayed circling Bath for two-and-a-half hours.

Safe and well: Passengers Laura Camper and partner Richard Morris were able to smile about the nerve-racking experience afterwards

Safe and well: Passengers Laura Camper and partner Richard Morris were able to smile about the nerve-racking experience afterwards

‘Towards the end of the flight the
pilot, called Mike, said he was going to take us down and he tried to
find a piece of grass to land on.

‘Every time we approached a park or
recreation ground a tiny gust of wind would knock us off course and as
we descended Mike said we might have to land on a road.

‘He was totally chilled and professional. He radioed the police to ask for
assistance and asked them to close roads if necessary.

‘Mike told us to get into the landing
position, as we would have to with a normal landing, which meant
sitting in the basket with our heads back.

‘When we came into land I think we hit a tree and a road sign which probably softened the landing.

‘When we touched down we all cheered.
No one was panicking and the police grabbed the basket to stop it
dragging or blowing away and we all got out.

Residents called the police because they were worried the low-flying balloon might crash into their homes

Residents called the police because they were worried the low-flying balloon might crash into their homes

Close shave: Residents called police, fearing that the low-flying balloon would crash into their homes

Police closed roads to ensure the balloon could safely

The balloon moves perilously close to another building

Near-misses: Police closed roads as the balloon moved perilously close to buildings

‘Afterwards we helped Mike roll up the balloon and chatted to each other. It was an unusual landing.’
The experience hasn’t put the couple off flying, however. Today they jetted off on holiday to Zante, Greece.

Mr Woodward said there was much anxiety on the ground as the balloon got lower and lower.

He said: ‘It went over the Wells Road then back over again after narrowly missing rooftops and trees.

‘Then it went over the river, only eight feet above a building, and the pilot skilfully landed on the grass bank just over the river – by the coach park.

‘It ripped the balloon when I think it caught on a tree.

‘How it didn’t hit any roofs I don’t know. Police and ambulance attended, but there were no injuries – it was an amazing landing.’

Avon and Somerset Police began receiving calls from concerned residents at about 8.40pm.

A spokesman for the force said: ‘They described seeing a hot air balloon in difficulty, flying low and close to buildings.

‘We were asked to close some roads because the balloon wanted to make an emergency landing.

‘It got into difficulty because of a sudden drop in wind.

‘Although it had enough fuel for another 30 minutes, it couldn’t gain altitude and wanted to make a landing.

‘There were five or six people onboard but everyone was safe and well and there was no need for a referral to air investigators.’

You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress | Designed by: Premium WordPress Themes | Thanks to Themes Gallery, Bromoney and Wordpress Themes