In the early morning hours of February 6th, just when residents were leaving for work and children starting their school day, two low flying hot air balloons were flying dangerously close to rooftops of homes and skirting the tops of trees. The nearness of the hot air balloons to structures caused concern amongst the people residing in the area. The balloons did not appear to have passengers or to be engaging in balloon
Worried residents in San Bernardino’s Chapman Heights neighborhood started making reports as early as 8 am that morning. The reports were regarding the two low flying hot air balloons. The callers indicated that at the time the balloons were flying so low that they nearly missed hitting houses.
Deputies were dispatched and reported spotting two hot air balloons flying within 5 feet of rooftops and brushing treetops.
Once deputies caught the attention of the hot air balloon pilots, they instructed them to land immediately. One touched down in the ballfield of a local school and the other landed in an orange grove located on private property.
Deputies had a brief discussion with both balloon pilots, at this point, it is unclear what they spoke about. According to officials, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department has indicated they will be forwarding a report to the offices of the Federal Aviation Administration.
No damage was reported as a result of the low flying hot air balloons to either people or property, but the sheriff’s department is asking anyone who may have seen anything to contact authorities.
There is no indication at the time of this article as to what was happening to cause the balloons to fly dangerously low. Were they racing ? Could one or both of them have been running low on fuel? Maybe they were experiencing some difficulty with their equipment ? It could be as simple as they traveled off course and were coming in for landing.
The residents reported that the balloon pilots spoke to them as they flew past and that they did not appear to be anxious. Hot air balloons are not steered traditionally and are for the most part at the mercy of the wind, they may have just gotten off track.
It’s important to always exercise safety participating in piloting and flying in a hot air balloon. Local ballooning facilitators may offer balloon piloting certification courses for those who wish to secure a pilot’s license to fly hot air balloons.