Balloons blown off course land safely in Downtown New Albany


by Gene Kang

Posted on April 26, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 26 at 12:41 PM

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WHAS11) -- The Rush Hour Hot Air Balloon Race ended with quite a surprise for Southern Indiana residents when the winds shifted Friday morning.

The Derby Festival event finished with balloons landing in a parking lot, on a hill and various locations near homes in Downtown New Albany. It gave spectators quite a sight and a "wicked" landing for many.

Click here to watch raw video of the balloon landing in New Albany.

A hand full of hot air balloons touched down near the Ohio River and Sherman Minton Bridge as winds carried them from the Rush Hour Race course. People stopped their workouts at the local YMCA while others left their homes to see the spectacle.

One child said he was afraid the balloons would land his home.

"We saw like three or four them almost close landing to our house," his sister said.

Maggie Hilton was exercising when she saw the landing.

"I could see them coming towards New Albany but I couldn't see them until I came out of the gym," Hilton said.

It was almost like a fantastic scene from the movie "Oz The Great and Powerful" for the community.

It was a first ride for the "Wicked" hot air balloon as they traveled from the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville to New Albany.

The pilot said: "It was great. How about you guys?"

Balloon rider, Leslie Brocker, said: "We were happy not to land in water. I have landed in water before but it's a good day to land in this parking lot."

WHAS 11 Meteorologist, Ben Pine, said: "They can go up and down as much as they want but as far as north, east, south and west, the balloons go where the wind blows."

If anything, the Mayor of New Albany is happy it all ended in his fair city.

"This is great publicity. It gives people a chance to come over here, follow those balloons and say hello," New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan said.