Thursday, April 29, 2004

Drive-By Ballooning

From KOB-TV in Albuquerque:

Rio Rancho police responded to an unusual hit-and-run report Wednesday morning as a hot air balloon struck a house and flew off.

The 80-foot balloon owned by Rainbow Ryders carried ten passengers when it hit the side of a home at 4005 Foxwood Trail SE just before 9 a.m. The balloon then continued its journey before landing safely about a half-mile away.

The home had minor damage visible on the outside, including some broken windows, a bent gutter and missing roof shingles. Inside, the home’s owner said plaster cracked across one room and her ceiling was pushed in.

Minor damage could also be seen on the balloon’s basket.

No one was injured in the incident.

“Basically as the balloon was on approach, it got hit by a downdraft. The wind speeds went from about 9 to 18 miles-an-hour in about a one minute period of time, and when those changes happen… the balloon’s natural tendency will be to go down,” said Scott Appleman of Rainbow Ryders.

Appleman said the balloon was not attempting to leave the scene of an accident. The pilot’s only option was to fly to a safe landing area.

He said Rainbow Ryders would pay for all damage to the home.

Rio Rancho police say the incident is under investigation.