Posted: Sep 30, 2013 5:29 PM by Russell Jones
Updated: Sep 30, 2013 5:29 PM
GONZALES - A brief fire during a hot air balloon's descent caused some concern among spectators at this weekend's Louisiana Hot Air Balloon Championship in Gonzales.
A festival spokesperson said during the balloon's approach to the landing area the pilot tried to correct a turn, burning a few panels of fabric near the bottom of the balloon. They said the pilot also quickly deflated the balloon once he touched down, which may have made it look like the balloon collapsed.
Federal safety officials and festival organizers who witnessed the event said there were no injuries, and said the pilot handled it with great skill.
"The event did a great job at controlling and reacting to a minor problem that could have been much worse," said Safety Officer Mark Trillanes. "The crowd was restricted from the area, and staff, security and EMS were on the scene before he even hit the ground, just to make sure everything was safe and under control.
Flight Director Harold Cliver likened it to a barrel race in a rodeo.
"Sometimes you have to put the whip to the horse to get 'em going a bit faster," Cliver said. "In his case it had the same result. He left a whelp on his balloon. It's a good thing balloons don't have a memory like your horse."