Hot-air balloon lands in Radlett field

PUBLISHED: 10:19 13 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:19 06 May 2010

Lindsay's photo of the crash landing

Lindsay's photo of the crash landing

A SKY-HIGH tour of St Albans escaped catastrophe when a hot air balloon landed in a field. The Virgin hot air balloon, which launched from its usual site in the grounds of Nicholas Breakspear School, drifted off course on Friday evening and ended

A SKY-HIGH tour of St Albans escaped catastrophe when a hot air balloon landed in a field.

The Virgin hot air balloon, which launched from its usual site in the grounds of Nicholas Breakspear School, drifted off course on Friday evening and ended up landing in a field off Common Lane in Radlett.

The balloon usually limits its sight-seeing to St Albans landmarks such as the Cathedral, Verulamium Park and the Clock Tower but, for reasons that are unknown, it ended up floating further south over Radlett.

The bright red balloon, which was carrying around 15 passengers and a tour guide, landed at around 6pm in Holcroft Spring Field, much to the surprise of nearby Sauncey Wood residents such as 15-year-old Lindsay Wimms who witnessed the landing from her bedroom window.

Lindsay, who ran to the field to get a closer look, said that she was amazed by what she saw: "All my neighbours and I were so surprised to see a big red balloon in the middle of the field - one of my friends said that it nearly landed on one of her horses!"

She added: "Somebody rushed off to find the owner of the field, who brought his forklift along to move a log that was blocking the field entrance. Then we all rushed to the balloon and were relieved to see that nobody was hurt - in fact, everybody seemed fairly happy and the tour guide even gave us all Virgin hats to wear.

A Virgin Balloon Flights spokesman said: “One of our Virgin balloons launched from Knebworth Park at 6pm on August 7 with 16 passengers onboard. After a normal and pleasant flight the highly-experienced pilot identified a safe, open field to land in near Sauncey Wood and, in extremely light winds of 5mph, performed a standard and perfectly safe landing around 7pm. After landing, the pilot deflated the balloon and balloon crew packed it away. Our balloons land in the area quite regularly and the landowner, a former balloon crew member, was very welcoming and helped to move a large log which was blocking the access gate. The passengers were then transported back to Knebworth to enjoy a traditional Champagne toast and certificate presentation.

“Unlike most aircraft, hot air balloons travel on the wind and therefore they cannot be steered in the conventional sense, so they do not land in designated places or airfields. Pilots, who can control the altitude of the balloon, choose an open space to land in which has easy access for the retrieval crew who are following on the ground. We fly tens of thousands of people each year throughout the UK and our very large red balloons always attract a lot of attention, especially when they come into land.”

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