Two hot air balloons make unplanned landings in Rancho Bernardo during windy weekend
No injuries reported in incidents
Last Updated: 124 days ago
SAN DIEGO - It was about dusk when Erik Windsor saw the hot air balloon, barely in time to stop his car. He grabbed his cell phone camera and started recording.
"As I'm coming down the road – right dead in front of me – the hot air balloon has just landed," Windsor told 10News. "Had to stop, put on hazard lights, hoped no one would rear-end me coming down the hill."
He was in the southbound lanes of Bernardo Center Drive just before it becomes Carmel Valley Road.
Video shot by Windsor shows several people on foot, pushing the basket as the pilot blasted super-heated air into the balloon to gain altitude.
"You can see they landed pretty safely, trying to get it moved down the road off to the side where they could break the thing down and apart and offload passengers," said Windsor. "It was dead center of the road… completely blocked traffic, backed up traffic a half mile to a mile up the hill. The basket had eight passengers, a larger basket. Fortunately, it looked like it was smooth, in a bad location where they landed."
Three similar incidents of note occurred during the past week, including one Saturday night on Black Mountain Road, plus the wedding party snafu captured on video as they crash landed on a house in Rancho Penasquitos last week.
The most recent pair was not reported to the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates the balloons.
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor told 10News, "An operator wouldn't necessarily have to report an unscheduled landing to the FAA if nobody was injured and there was no damage to the balloon or to any property on the ground."
Neighbors often watch the balloons and sometimes it is obvious that winds can cause trouble.
Resident Catarina Conway spoke about the balloons she saw in the sky last week.
"One was shaped like a little panda bear and you can see the panda bear's face just rotating because of the wind," she said. "It was pretty windy."
Having seen that, she said she would think twice before chartering a ride.
"I wouldn't, not on a windy day like that," she said. "You wouldn't catch me up there."
Other neighbors told of various unscheduled landings.
Julia LoPresti told of a balloon landing in a dog park a few blocks away from her home.
Debra Schmidt told 10News, "One year we had a hot air balloon land in our cul-de-sac. A couple of months later one landed in the canyon below our house. A couple of months after that, one landed in the park the kids use near our house."
The FAA has sanctioned some pilots in San Diego in recent years but could not immediately provide specifics. Accidents also lead to civil lawsuits.
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