Hot air balloon blocks road as cold snap gets underway

WONGLEPONG WOES: This hot air balloon landed on the side of Wonglepong Road, blocking the road to cars. Photo: Supplied
WONGLEPONG WOES: This hot air balloon landed on the side of Wonglepong Road, blocking the road to cars. Photo: Supplied

A HOT air balloon has landed on Wonglepong Road south of Beaudesert, blocking traffic and prompting residents to complain that there were too many accidents.

A witness said the balloon had been flying low near a paddock on the corner of Biddaddaba and Boyland roads before taking off again and landing a few kilometers away at Wonglepong on Friday.

It occurred when there was extensive fog across the Scenic Rim followed by windy conditions, with Beaudesert recording a wind gust of 33km/h at 10am.

Hot Air general manager Clayton Priddle said the flight was safe and within normal operating guidelines.

“Our commercial pilots are trained to the highest standards and plan flights according to weather conditions,” he said. “Occasionally, weather changes during the flight and our pilots are trained to revise flight plans as required.

“We did land on the side of a rural road and as a safety precaution during the deflation process our crew performed traffic control. A minor delay was experienced.”

Mr Priddle said when landing pilots had to descend to a low level and could overfly rural properties.

“Our pilots all fly with state of the art navigation aids, which list the details of properties we can and can't use,” he said. “We consider our land owner relations as a very important aspect of our business.”

Biddaddaba resident Russell Davidson said he was frustrated at balloon operators not being respectful of property owners’ wishes to keep balloons away from the area. “It is disrespectful. We continually tell them this is a sensitive zone,” he said.

Mr Davidson said this was not the first time a balloon had caused a road block, with a school bus previously having been stopped near Biddaddaba Creek in a similar incident.

Mr Davidson is calling on change. Photo: Jocelyn Garcia

Mr Davidson is calling on change. Photo: Jocelyn Garcia

He said changes had to be made.

“We’re happy to work with them but they need to respect our area…,” he said. “We have young horses working in our indoor equestrian centre being ridden and as soon as they come in vision and the gas bottle ignite, these get a fright.

“What happens if one of the riders get hurt? No one will act until someone or our horses get injured and that’s pathetic… we can’t afford to have injured horses.”

Mr Davidson said he called on animal organisations, political representatives, council, locals and hot air balloon operators to hold a meeting to resolve the issue.

Last month, a hot air balloon hit power lines at Cedar Grove and left hundreds of homes without power for up to two hours.