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updated: 6/24/2014 6:00 PM

Pilot: Huntley balloon landing wasn't emergency

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  • A hot-air balloon landed safely in Sun City in Huntley early Tuesday. The pilot said he was looking for a safe place to land and there was no emergency.

      A hot-air balloon landed safely in Sun City in Huntley early Tuesday. The pilot said he was looking for a safe place to land and there was no emergency.
    Courtesy of Huntley Police Department

 
 

What seemed like an emergency landing by a hot-air balloon in a Huntley neighborhood Tuesday morning wasn't really an emergency at all, pilot Chad Morin said.

It was planned and "perfectly executed," said Morin, 37, of Marengo, a commercial hot-air balloon pilot and owner of Nostalgia Ballooning, which runs flights out of the Hampshire and Huntley areas.

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"There were no gusts. It was really calm out," he said. "There was no emergency here."

The balloon carrying four people landed at 7:27 a.m. in the middle of an intersection at Songbird Lane and Windy Prairie Drive in the Sun City senior living community.

Huntley Police Deputy Chief Michael Klunk said the pilot decided to execute an emergency landing after heavy winds began to blow the craft near high-tension power lines near I-90.

No injuries were reported. A witness to the landing called police after the craft touched down.

Klunk said a chase vehicle from Sky Soaring Glider Club in Hampshire -- where the balloon took off from -- arrived after the craft touched down, and helped load the balloon and passengers within 20 minutes.

Onlookers began snapping pictures while the passengers and members of the glider club loaded up the craft.

Klunk said a balloon can land where appropriate during an emergency landing and the pilot would not face any penalties.

Morin said weather conditions were fine. He had been up in the air for an hour and 15 minutes and balloon flights typically last an hour. He was flying about 2,000 feet above Hampshire High School when he started his descent looking for an appropriate landing spot.

"You never know where you are going to land when you take off," he said. "You don't want to pass up too many safe landing spots. I saw the nice, wide intersection, and I took it. I had plenty of fuel to go on another hour. (But) when you have a good landing spot, you take it. This just happened to be an area not frequented by balloons. It's unorthodox, but it's perfectly safe."

Morin said the situation escalated to authorities being called because residents of the Sun City neighborhood were amazed by the balloon landing there.

"One of the homeowners was concerned that the balloon had crashed," Morin said.

Morin, who grew up in Kildeer, said he has been riding in hot-air balloons since he was 6 years old. He trained in Alburquerque, New Mexico, and he started a professional balloon ride company two years ago in Colorado. He came to the Chicago area about a month ago and recently started operating flights out of the Hampshire airport.

"I'm really trying to raise the ballooning awareness in the area," Morin said. "When accidents do occur, it makes headlines because there are so few. Statistically, ballooning is very safe."

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