NIBONG TEBAL - A hot air balloon carrying 10 people, including eight journalists, was spotted making an unscheduled landing on a road near Padang Jawi in Penang at about 9.30am on Thursday (Jan 10).
The balloon was part of a media flight to promote the Penang Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, which would be held on Feb 8, 9 and 10 at Padang Polo, George Town. All the passengers of the hot air balloon landed safely, The Star reported.
Myballoon adventure director Izzati Khairudin said the hot air balloon was one of three that took off from Padang Jawi, Nibong Tebal, to promote the commercial balloon rides on offer to the public during the Penang Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.
"One hot air balloon, piloted by Captain Jonas Van Doorsselaere, made a landing on Jalan Persekutuan, Nibong Tebal."
"The balloon chase crew were able to temporarily halt traffic on the road to enable the balloon to make a safe landing."
"All passengers on board as well as civilians in the surrounding area were unharmed and traffic resumed promptly as soon as the balloon was packed."
"Captain Van Doorsselaere is an experienced pilot with 17 years of flying record," she said in a statement.
She added that hot air balloon navigation was dependent on wind direction at different altitudes.
"As such, hot air balloons are able to end their flight by landing anywhere with secure ample space, unlike aircraft such as planes or helicopters which require specific runways or landing pads."
"For today's flight, the landing was deemed appropriate and followed all the standard procedures," she said.
According to the Malaysian paper China Press, the balloon first landed on an undergrowth nearby. As the site was impassable for vehicles transporting the balloon equipment, the authorities decided to elevate the balloon again for a few metres and land safely on the road with help on the ground.
The pilot told reporters this was not the first time he had landed on a road and stressed that the landing was not an accident, reported China Press.