Hot Air Balloon Landings Catch Residents’ Eyes

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Hot Air Balloon Landings Catch Residents’ Eyes

Residents of Longmont in Erie, CO, noticed two hot air balloon landings that seemed unusual.

“It came down with a thud,” Dejan Smaic said. “It was pretty unusual. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that before.”

Smaic, who lives in Longmont near the intersection of Colo. 66 and Pace Street, quickly grabbed his camera when he spotted the balloon descending at 8:30 a.m.

He said balloonists normally land in a nearby field, so he was surprised when he saw the balloon heading for Olympia Avenue.

“It sounded awfully close,” he said. “It was floating toward us almost at tree top level. … It made a hard landing. I don’t think the basket tipped, but it came down very hard.”

Smaic said the chase crew quickly arrived on site and took the balloon away.

“I couldn’t talk to anyone as to why it landed,” he said. “My guess is they overshot the field.”

Half an hour later, Christopher Helton, a photographer, spotted another balloon descending near County Line Road and Evans Street in Erie.

Helton, who managed to get some pictures of the landing, said he was surprised the balloon didn’t collide with the power lines in the area. The passengers told him afterward that the wind had knocked them off course.

“No one was hurt,” Helton said. “They were laughing about it. They were lucky. I can’t believe they came down around all that stuff. There are power lines all around them.”

In May, Erie’s Town Fair and Balloon Festival was canceled due to weather conditions, and in June, another hot air balloon had a difficult landing in Fort Collins – an hour from Erie.

Jesse Starke, a local resident, was pulling into work at Weston Auto Gallery in Fort Collins at 7:45 a.m. when he noticed a low-flying balloon.

A few minutes later, Starke and another mechanic watched the balloon bounce off the roof of Natural Grocers before landing next to the Troutman Parkway.

“Whenever I see (hot air balloons), I think it’s cool because it’s something I’d done in the past, but I’d never seen one do that before,” Starke said.

The passengers directed traffic around the balloon while they deflated it and loaded it onto a trailer.

Rob Martinez, an employee at Natural Grocers, said it took the people nearly 15 minutes to deflate the balloon and put it on the trailer. Luckily, no one was injured in the incident.

Flights of Fancy in nearby Loveland, CO, and Spirit of Colorado in Fort Collins both offer hot air balloon rides in the area.

According to a local official, “Riding in a hot air balloon above Fort Collins is like nothing you’ve experienced. You’ll see spectacular views of Colorado from an entirely different vantage point. To the east, you can see the Great Plains stretch to the horizon. And to the west, you’ll spot iconic mountain tops such as Longs Peak, and peer deep into Rocky Mountain National Park. For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, hot air balloons are the way to go.”

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