Hot air balloon lands in Carmel Valley: Balloon narrowly missed drivers on SR-56

No injuries reported

SAN DIEGO - A panda-shaped hot air balloon landed near state Route 56 in Carmel Valley on Saturday evening.

The incident occurred at about 8:30 p.m. in Carmel Valley just west of Carmel Valley Road, where traffic was busy in both directions on the road.

Miles Arnold saw the panda-shaped balloon hovering over his home, and decided to follow it when he noticed it flying too close to the ground.

"I got there, I saw the balloon hovering right over the highway, and it was crazy," explained Miles.

Miles and his twin brother Blake along with their dad Glenn chased the balloon as it descended onto the 56 freeway. Miles took out his cellphone to record the landing, which showed the massive balloon slipping in between two overpasses.

At one point, the balloon is seen draped over both lanes of the freeway, forcing east and westbound traffic to a halt.

"[The pilot] had just enough room. It was like threading a needle," said Glenn Arnold, who explained that the hot air balloon landed in a bike trail under the freeway overpass. "We just heard a bunch of people yell, 'Yay, we made it!'"

10News confirmed the balloon is from Panda-Monium Hot Air Balloon Flights out of Del Mar.

The company's owner, Tim, told 10News on Sunday that the hot air balloon did not land off course and that balloons do not have courses, but general flight paths.

He said there was a staging area that the operator was aiming for, but due to the wind, the safest place for the balloon to land was close to the freeway. No one was injured and no equipment was damaged.

A man driving a Panda-Monium trailer and another vehicle confronted a 10News crew on Saturday evening, demanding the crew not to air the story. When 10News tried to ask questions, the man got back into his vehicle and sped off.

Miles, however, is not minding all the attention his video is getting online.

"Did not realize my video would go viral," he explained in a tweet. "I thought [shooting] the video would be a good opportunity to get some good Twitter favorites!"


Were you on that hot air balloon or do you know someone who was? We'd love to hear from you. Email or call the Assignment Desk at (619) 237-6380.

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