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Huntley hot-air balloon landing deemed compliant by FAA

Published: Friday, June 27, 2014 1:50 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, June 27, 2014 9:19 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Photo provided by the Huntley Police Department)
This hot-air balloon landed Tuesday in Huntley at the intersection of Songbird Lane and Windy Prairie Drive, prompting emergency calls and responders.

HUNTLEY — Although it has triggered questions from local authorities, a hot-air balloon landing this week in a Huntley neighborhood did not violate any federal regulations, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The balloon, which had four passengers in tow, took off Tuesday from Sky Soaring Airport near Hampshire. It later landed around 7:30 a.m. in Huntley at the intersection of Songbird Lane and Windy Prairie Drive, prompting emergency calls and responders.

There were no injuries or damage from the balloon landing.

"The FAA found no regulatory violation in terms of rules of flight," FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory said Friday.

Cory added regulations prohibit carelessness and recklessness during operation, and in this case, after speaking with pilot Chad Morin, owner of Nostalgia Balloons, neither were found.

On Wednesday, Huntley Police Chief John Perkins explained no local penalties were being considered at first because the landing was thought to be due to an emergency.

Perkins added he started reconsidering after reading comments made by Morin to the media, indicating the landing was made by choice, and not necessity.

Morin, on Friday, maintained he did not land because of an emergency of any sort, but rather because he thought the intersection to be an opportune landing spot.

"If you pass up too many good landing spots, you could run out of landing spots," Morin said.

Deputy Chief Mike Klunk on Friday said charges were no longer being considered, but future discussion about a hot-air balloon ordinance may be in order.

In Crystal Lake, hot-air balloons are prohibited from landing within city limits, barring certain emergency situations, according to Crystal Lake Chief of Police James Black.

"From a public safety standpoint, we certainly don't want a balloon landing in the middle of downtown just for the sake of doing it," Black said.

He said he believed the original ordinance, which outlined provisions for aircrafts, was adopted in 1999 and later amended in 2012 to include the provision for balloons.

After the incidents over the last two weeks — a separate balloon landing on Friday, June 20 resulted in minor injuries to one person and damage to a Huntley golf course — authorities in Huntley are planning research of their own.

"That's something that's being thrown around," Klunk said. "We've had two incidents in the last (two weeks) and zero before that. … We understand Crystal Lake has an ordinance and we're looking at that, but it's just a discussion at this point."

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