Surprise hot air balloon landings in Kelowna

Surprise hot air balloon landings in Kelowna

Balloon with 6 passengers aboard lands on Blondeaux Crescent

A Glenmore neighourhood had an unexpected visitor descend from the sky last Saturday.

An Okanagan Ballooning trip ended up making a morning landing on Blondeaux Crescent with six passengers aboard.

John Koentner, owner of company, blamed the wind for carrying the balloon away from its intended field landing spot.

“It was a perfect spot to land being a quiet street and no overhead powerlines. We had our ground crew following us as we looked for a place to land,” said Koentner, who noted a similar balloon landing occurred about four blocks away from Blondeaux two years ago.

“There aren’t really normals in landing a balloon because it is subject to the wind. We can control going up and down but whichever way the wind is blowing, that is the direction you are moving.”

Hot air balloon made an unexpected landing on Blondeaux Crescent in Glenmore last Saturday morning. Photo: Lisa Planz/Contributor

He said they were looking at a nearby baseball diamond as a set-down point but the wind wasn’t blowing in that direction.

A Blondeaux resident missed the actual landing but took photos of the balloon takedown.

“I just watched and took photos from my balcony and saw them deflate the balloon and pack it up. Was quite interesting to watch,”she said.

Koentner, who operates the only balloon riding business in B.C., said the passenger load included two people from Winnipeg, two from Vancouver and two from Kelowna, a reflection of the overall 60-40 typical split between tourists and local residents.

READ MORE: HOT AIR BALLOON FLOATS OVER KELOWNA

He said balloon rides remain one of the safest forms of air travel, a sensation experience that is hard to beat.

“You are just floating with the wind and the watching the world slowly rotate under you is an incredible experience. There is nothing like it.”

A different hot air balloon made an unplanned and unexpected appearance at the Kelowna International Airport last Wednesday.

Kelowna Coun. Ryan Donn caught a balloon on camera and commented that it seemed awfully close to in-coming and out-going planes.

“You got the hot air balloon, basically, trying to land at the airport,” said Donn, on a video he shared to his social media accounts. “I don’t think that is what the airport improvement plan was for.”

Hot air balloons are regulated just the same as airplanes and must abide by air traffic control.

While this hot air balloon didn’t plan to land at their airport did make its way into YLW’s airspace.

Jodie Foster, communications with YLW, says hot air balloons function much like airplanes and its pilots do talk to air traffic control.

Balloon rides fall under the administrative auspices of Transport Canada, as Okanagan Ballooning undergoes an annual operating audit.

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@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

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