Hard landings – including a brush with power lines and a gondola blaze – deflated day three of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, but no serious injuries were reported, according to multiple news outlets.
Jimmy DeFillippo, deputy chief for Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue, told the Associated Press the pilot and a passenger – both women – were each thrown from one balloon and suffered only minor injuries. Before impacting, bounding along the ground and catching fire, that balloon also struck a power line upon descent, causing a limited electrical outage and some equipment damage, Public Service Co. of New Mexico spokeswoman Shannon Jackson told the AP.
The utility company also confirmed to KOAT a second balloon flew into a cable line, and the station's Sky 7 flew over a balloon hung up in a tree near the old Rio Rancho Golf Course. While the vessel in the third incident did land on the ground, the actual balloon portion, known as the envelope, became entangled in the trees and ripped, the station reported.
Fiesta spokesman Tom Garrity confirmed to the AP another balloon landed in Albuquerque's North Valley with its fabric draped over a utility line but suffered no damage and caused no injuries, while a balloon passenger with a preexisting medical condition required medical treatment following a hard landing on the field at the fiesta launch site.
According to KOB, the balloon snagged on the light pole was piloted by Rubens Kalousidian, a veteran pilot from Brazil. Kalousidian told the station he has flown in at least half a dozen Balloon Fiesta over the years, Monday marked his first hard landing during the festival.
"I landed in this small place and then, because the wind is a little bit strong, it turned the envelope over the trees," Kalousidian told KOB.
According to the Fiesta's official website, the nine-day 2019 festival, which launched Oct. 5, will feature a total of 550 hot air balloons and attract more than 886,000 spectators.
- The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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