Off-course hot air balloon lands at school


CHP Officers Michael Phennicie and David Spencer were in the CHP's Rohnert Park office's parking lot when they spotted a balloon that appeared to be in distress, CHP Officer Jon Sloat said.

The balloon was losing altitude and disappeared behind some buildings adjacent to Redwood Drive, Sloat said.

The officers pursued it in their patrol car as the eastbound balloon traveled over U.S. Highway 101, Sloat said.

The balloon cleared power lines and some buildings by just a few feet before it struck a fence at the K-5 school at 1400 Magnolia Ave., Sloat said.

Officers directed students and teachers away from the balloon and held down its basket, Sloat said. The pilot and two passengers, a man and a woman, escaped safely.

The pilot said he intended to land the balloon in a field on the west side of the highway but winds blew him off course to the east, Sloat said.

After the landing, he deflated the balloon and a vehicle from the company that operates the balloon flights hauled it away, Sloat said.

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