Hot air balloon pilots forced to land in Longview traffic
‘You don’t see this every day!’
LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - It was a sight that caught some East Texas drivers by surprise, as hot air balloons are forced to make landing on a busy roadway.
It happened Friday evening in Longview, as balloons from the ‘Great Texas Balloon Race’ were making a fun-flight over the city, and had to make a skillful landing on Loop 281.
As pilots finished their second day of competition over Longview skies, many were still talking about the emergency set down pilots had to make Friday evening.
“We came over the trees and I saw this clearing, and said you know what? I’ll stop traffic,” said pilot Pat Cannon of Lewisville, Texas.
The balloons were taking part in a fun flight over Longview when the wind just vanished.
“It was close to sunset, winds are getting calm. And you got to take your best opportunity. Sometimes it’s a road,” said pilot Michael Celentano of Allen, Texas.
Aside from the Loop 281 traffic on Friday night, there were power lines and trees to deal with. Setting down took some skill.
With a narrow window to land, pilots had to avoid getting hung up on obstacles, and hope that motorists would make room for them.
“We saw no power lines on this side or the other side of the road, so I just figured this is about as good as it’s going to get tonight,” Cannon said.
Some motorists even pitched in to help.
“Got into the road, slid a little bit. Planted her and stopped her,” Celentano said.
In the end both landed safely, injuring no one.
“Sometimes you just have to do, what you have to do,” Cannon said.
As reporter Jamey Boyum’s granddaughter said when they encountered the balloons in traffic, “you don’t see this every day!”
The final day of competition for the 2021 ‘Great Texas Balloon Race’ is tomorrow morning, with pilots expected to be airborne by 6:45.
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