A pilotless hot air balloon crash-landed in a parking lot in Cambridgeshire, UK this month. Much to the surprise of office workers who rushed to the site upon spotting the balloon plummeting to the ground, the basket was empty. The initial thought was that the pilot had evacuated or bailed out of the gondola or perhaps suffered a medical emergency and had fallen.
One of the first to arrive at the scene, worker Jack Langley expressed concern in stating that at around 11 a.m. on the morning of November 13th, “I noticed a hot air balloon plummeting from the sky and it landed just shy of our car park.” He said he and several others rushed to the balloon to see if there were individuals injured and discovered no one there. He and other eyewitnesses determined upon inspection that the gas was still running.
Mr. Langley said, “Either they had bailed out and jumped out before crashing or the balloon escaped from its mooring lines.”
He further indicated that “It was pretty scary, the fire was still on and started to smoke.” Then a security guard who was in attendance turned the gas off. Mr. Langley said he and the others made attempts to look around the lot to see if they could uncover evidence of someone being injured or lying near to the basket. He said, “We tried to have a look to see if anyone was hurt or laying in the tree line behind, but there was no-one to be seen.”
He then stated that fire officials arrived roughly 30 minutes later and began a search of their own to determine what had happened, if anything, to the occupants of the hot air balloon crash.
Emergency services stated that they had received a call around 11:30 that morning stating that a hot air balloon crash-landed at the Cambridge parking lot. A crew attended the scene and arrived back at their station by 12:35 as no firefighting or emergency response to injured persons was required.
According to a Police spokesperson, “It was unmanned. Had taken off and then fallen back to Earth. No need for our attendance.”
Following the incident, the Civil Aviation Authority had been asked to investigate. It was later determined that the light aircraft had been uplifted by the wind after a crash that injured it’s pilot earlier in the day. It had initially crashed that morning in the town of Doddington. The crash had violently thrown the aircraft’s occupants, a pilot and his passenger from the basket.
The recovery vehicle found them and upon the discovery that they were injured, then transported the two to local hospitals. Afterword, the balloon was taken by a gust of wind and carried into the Cambridge parking lot.
What is even more curious is that fact that the pilot indicated the gas was off following the crash. And yet, office workers at the scene of the Cambridge parking lot crash indicated it was on and the balloon was smoking. The general consensus is the lead must have been reignited by trees.