A hot air balloon went down in a Murrieta retirement community Thursday because of high winds and mechanical trouble, but no one was injured.
The balloonist apparently lost control amid stiff winds about 8:30 a.m., causing the balloon to drift off course in the Temecula Valley and spin earthward into the city.
“The guy was on a test flight, and he took off from one of the wineries when he ran into problems,” Murrieta Fire & Rescue Capt. Richard Martinez told City News Service. “He said the winds were blowing about 28 mph, and then he had a mechanical issue.”
The balloon came to rest on a cul de sac in the gated senior living community known as The Colony at California Oaks, near Jackson Avenue, according to Martinez. No trees, power lines or homes were impacted.
Martinez said the balloonist had a passenger on board, and both men walked away from the forced landing unscathed. Their names were not released.
“After they went down, some landscapers helped them gather up the balloon,” Martinez told CNS.
A woman in a chase vehicle was monitoring the flight and was able to track the balloon to its landing spot, the fire captain said. She arrived within a few minutes, and the parties loaded the collapsed aircraft onto a trailer and returned to the launch site.
“When I heard the call, I was like, `We’re going to what?”’ Martinez said. “I see the balloons all the time around here, but this is the first time I’m aware of one coming down in the city like this.”
Murrieta police Sgt. Jeremy Durant told CNS that no citations were issued in connection with the incident.
“We just wanted to make sure everyone was safe and that he got his balloon out of there,” he said.
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