Balloon Fiesta bystanders help pilots land during windy morning

Posted at: 10/13/2013 8:08 AM
Updated at: 10/13/2013 8:10 AM
By: Ryan Luby and Elizabeth Reed, KOB Eyewitness News 4



Unpredictable winds led to some close calls at Balloon Fiesta on Saturday morning.

Balloon pilots found themselves flying on a picture perfect day mixed with less than perfect wind patterns.

A 13-year veteran pilot told KOB Eyewitness News 4 he relied on the good graces of strangers to help him land.

"You know, like two-thirds of the people who helped here were just bystanders," pilot Rick James said.

He confirmed exactly what balloon watchers witnessed over and over again: Close calls with power lines in the middle of the North Valley and overshot landings in large open land or parking lots just north of I-40.

"We had a good line on a couple of fields, and right as we got to them, we just got swept off, you know, to one side or the other," James said.

While it wasn't exactly an easy day, pilots said it was an opportunity to prove that the beauty of a weekend experience like this is worth the sacrifice.