A pilot who landed a hot air balloon carrying a wedding party in the middle of a residential San Diego street Thursday says the emergency maneuver was the safest option for getting him and his eight passengers on the ground.
Magical Adventures Pilot Phil Brandt said he knew about 20 minutes into the flight that he would not make the trip's Rancho Penisquitos destination because of changing wind conditions. After earlier attempts in open field and a number of rooftop near misses, Brandt chose Sorrento Valley's Lusk Boulevard to set down the balloon
“I chose the safest option I had with the conditions I had,” Brandt said.
Despite the risks caused by buildings and power lines near by, Brandt says there was no traffic below. He steered the basket into tree tops to slow it down and limit skidding on the street.
It's just that kind of unpredictability that frightens and frustrates nearby Sorrento Valley resident Sandra Williams. Williams says in the last 10 years she has had one hot air balloon collision with her home and several near misses.
“They can't control them they float out of an area that makes any sense,” Williams said.
Brandt says in 25 years and 7,000 flights, he's made emergency landings on roadways several hundred times. He considers this a a safe alternative with no injuries nor property damage.
“It was a controlled landing but at an unusual location,” Brandt said.
The pilot says he is required to contact the Federal Aviation Administration Friday to report details of the landing. He could be sanctioned or cited, but said he doesn't expect to be based on the circumstances.