Hot air balloon makes ‘unexpected’ landing in Methuen neighborhood
Who needs a noisy alarm clock with a wake-up call like this?
At around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, a cheery-looking hot air balloon bearing a giant smiley face landed smack-dab in the middle of an otherwise quiet Methuen neighborhood.
According to Methuen police, who shared a photograph on Twitter of the bright-yellow balloon, the high-flying object skimmed across some trees before it made a surprise landing in a resident’s front yard on Haymeadow Road.
Officials from the Methuen Fire Department responded to the scene, police said, where they spoke to the six passengers — including the balloon’s pilot — following the landing. Everyone who was inside of basket was “safe and unharmed,” authorities said.
The balloon, which belonged to High 5 Ballooning, based in nearby Derry, N.H., made its grand entrance outside of Sarah Benoit’s front window.
The mother of three said her children were downstairs watching television while she was getting ready on the second floor of her home. Suddenly, she heard a noise that she thought was a chainsaw — she later learned it was actually the fire used to keep the balloon inflated — followed by a second sound that she thought was a tree branch being cut down.
She lifted her blinds to see what was happening, and there it was: a basket tethered to a yellow smiley-faced balloon, and six adults in her yard.
“I asked them, ‘Are you guys OK?,’ and they said, ‘Yeah! We’re just here for some coffee,’ ” said Benoit. “It was strange. I was a little scared at first, but then we were just laughing about it.”
Shortly after the balloon touched down, Benoit and her kids gathered outside in awe and began chatting with the visitors.
“As soon as they saw it, it was just a party outside in their pajamas. They got to go in it and take a picture inside of [the basket]. They wanted to go back up in it, obviously,” she said. “It was actually kind of cool, and the kids were amazed.”
Tony Sica, owner of High 5 Ballooning and the pilot of the smiley-faced balloon on Tuesday, said he executed the “perfect” landing in the neighborhood because it was a good spot with no wires and some open space.
He said 90 percent of the company’s landings are in residential areas, and Tuesday’s arrival was not a mistake.
“I know this area like the back of my hand,” said Sica, who has been ballooning for 20 years in the area. “We had several attempts before this that didn’t work out. When you’re in the air, the wind is in control, you are not, and you have to take what’s presented in front of you.”
He said in the two decades he’s been in business, only three landowners have been upset about his balloon arrivals.
“I think that’s a testament to the fact that people love ballooning,” he said. “They are enthralled by it — not many people get up close and personal with a balloon.”
Benoit said after about 45 minutes or so in her neighborhood (and after police and fire officials responded to the area to make sure everything was all right), a crew that had been following the balloon deflated it, wrapped it up, and loaded it onto a trailer, before whisking the people who were riding inside of it away.
Benoit said Sica gifted her a bottle of champagne for temporarily hosting the balloon.
“I guess it’s something that is actually a tradition,” she said, “that if someone lands in your yard, it’s a good luck thing.”
@cityofmethuen an unexpected vistor dropped in at 6:30am at 22 Haymeadow. A hot air balloon skimmed across the trees & landed in the yard. & @MethuenFire responded and found all six passengers including its pilot to be safe an unharmed. via @ChiefSolomon pic.twitter.com/MgqQUgPqS2— Methuen Police 🇺🇸 (@MethuenPolice) June 26, 2018