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Hot air balloon makes emergency landing on Andover roadway

The hot air balloon New Horizon sailed Monday before making an emergency landing.The Trustees

Artist Doug Aitken designed his hot air balloon to draw attention, covering it with a reflective surface so it’d distort the surrounding world as if a hovering, melon-shaped funhouse mirror.

So when the balloon was brought in for a landing on an Andover highway Monday morning, it got plenty of attention, just not the kind Aitken probably intended.

The 100-foot balloon, named New Horizon, landed in a patch of green space at the intersection of Route 125 and Route 28 in Andover, said Kristi Perry, a spokeswoman for The Trustees, the conservation organization displaying the craft. New Horizon launched around 7 a.m. from the Stevens-Coolidge Place in North Andover with a group of journalists on board, and had been aloft for nearly an hour when the pilot decided to look for a place to land before it approached a large lake, Perry said.


The balloon had to land because of heavy winds, the Stevens–Coolidge Place said in a statement. The balloon’s crew chief, Joel Steele, told Andover Patch that the landing spot was “perfectly safe.” The pilot and six passengers were not injured. “That was the best landing spot we could get. It wasn’t like a crash landing — it was just the most ideal landing location for the course we were on,” Steele told Patch.

After the balloon landed, a crew following behind it in a truck parked nearby and packed up the deflated balloon, Perry said.

Police from Andover, as well as State Police, responded to the scene following a 911 call, Patch reported. The scene was cleared by 8:30 a.m.

The balloon was going to be on display at the Crane Estate Monday night, but the event was canceled because of forecasted rain, The Trustees said in a statement.

The sight of a large, silvery balloon dropping out of the sky and descending over the roadway caught the eye of some drivers -- at least one posted images on Facebook of the balloon as it deflated.


“Not the usual commute to work this morning,” wrote Jim Piraino in a post, noting the balloon had blocked the nearby exit.

Back in May, Aitken told the Globe that riding in the balloon is like being “friction free.” “And [it’s] really strange and liberating. There’s no steering wheel,” Aitken said. “In a world that is so controlled and mediated, you kind of want to break away and have this moment . . ., we’re going to go somewhere without a roadmap.”

Murray Whyte of the Globe staff and Globe correspondents Alyssa Lukpat and Maria Lovato contributed to this report. John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the balloon landed in North Andover.