Seven Balloons Land On AFA Property

By: KKTV
By: KKTV

The Balloon Classic took an unexpected turn for personnel with the Air Force Academy Sunday.

A spokesman with AFA tells 11 News that seven balloons landed on Academy property. The AFA had preauthorized air space for the event, and were aware that balloons could cross over Academy grounds during the event. Landing, on the other hand, had never been permitted.

"We didn't have a plan conceived," the spokesman said about several balloons unexpectedly landing.

Early reports suggested that those on the balloons might be arrested for landing on federal property, but AFA tells 11 News that was never true.

"They were spread out...it wasn't coordinated...I don't know how much control you really have about where you land," the spokesman said. One balloon landed on the air field, which was in use at the time; two landed south of the AFA industrial area; two landed in Pine Valley near base housing; and two landed by the south gate.

The spokesman said one of the crew chiefs had been trying to gain access to her balloon pilot, and got into a dispute with guards, who were not allowing her to enter. This was before the AFA got a plan in effect, the spokesman said, and once escorts were organized to take crews to their balloons, the dispute was diffused.

Crews work on the ground, so the crew chief's attempt to gain entry prior to a plan for escorts being formulated was a different situation than the pilots of the balloons being on AFA property.

"(The pilots) were just hanging out," the spokesman said. He said they were never in trouble, as AFA personnel determined the landings were accidental.

Many of the escorts called in were on their day off, the spokesman said. He said everyone pulled together to resolve the situation.

"We were just working to help."


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Attendee on Sep 7, 2011 at 12:09 PM
    Didn't thousands of people come on the base that Sat for a football game -thru the same gate without any credentials. Those "Rent a Cops" are rude!!!
  • by James Bond Location: London on Sep 5, 2011 at 02:04 AM
    I kind of think the wind was blowing the wrong way, it is always best to check with a toy balloon just befor trying it with the real thing. If you like balloons or blimps and feel like a laugh, then try my Gasbags site: www.hybridblimp.net for the worlds only lighter than air comedy web site. Regards JB (Airship & Blimp Consultant www.hybridairship.net)
  • by Anonymous on Sep 4, 2011 at 07:44 PM
    I'm sure everyone is as exposed to the security measures taken on military bases, especially if they don't live near one. I'm also sure that the crew's concern for the balloon pilot and passengers had nothing to do with their reaction. Sometimes I am surprised at how obtuse people can be.
  • by ex-USAF sp on Sep 4, 2011 at 06:09 PM
    Pretty strange over-reaction from AFA security. Considering that the AFA is as close to an "open" installation as you can get (you can literally walk on to the base from a number of directions), and that the base is open to tourists, giving the balloon crews and balloonists a hard time is pretty stupid. The AFA is looking like it's run by a bunch of goons. Nice Job! And FWIW, I was USAF Security (the real thing, not the civilian contractor type) on a nuclear installation. If the AFA was REALLY worried about security, they would lock it up like a nuke base.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Sep 6, 2011 at 08:31 AM in reply to ex-USAF sp
      Exactly! Because everyone knows the USAFA and nuke bases are exactly the same. Surely the chapel and a nuclear warhead need similar protection levels. Oh...wait!
      • reply
        by Jeff on Sep 6, 2011 at 06:56 PM in reply to
        Did the WTC have nukes? Moron.
  • by Rovert Tnuh Location: Blighty on Sep 4, 2011 at 01:41 PM
    If you like balloons and need a laugh try my Gasbags site: www.hybridblimp.net
  • by JB Location: C/S on Sep 4, 2011 at 01:09 PM
    Landing on a military installation, even if unintentional and accidental, can have
    dire consequences for the certificate holder.
  • by Anon Location: CS on Sep 4, 2011 at 01:07 PM
    "One balloon landed on the air field, which was in use at the time; two landed south of the AFA industrial area; one landed in Pine Valley near base housing; and two landed by the south gate." What about the 7th balloon? Where did that one land? Or was that the one that landed on West Woodmen Road just south of USAFA property?
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Sep 4, 2011 at 07:51 PM in reply to Anon
      story says TWO landed in pine valley
  • by See it every week on Sep 4, 2011 at 12:36 PM
    The cadets RACING back to base on their motorcycles after shopping at the local stores off of Academy and Briargate pose much more of a threat than any hot air balloons. You know who you are. Great example to set, and I bet you civilians cannot drive like that on USAF installations. (BTW, the gate entry stickers on your bikes give you away EVERYTIME)
    • reply
      by Jeff on Sep 4, 2011 at 02:53 PM in reply to See it every week
      Agreed, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it once they reach their safe haven of the AFA and they know it.
    • reply
      by L on Sep 4, 2011 at 06:23 PM in reply to See it every week
      From my understanding, cadets are prohibited from operating or riding as passengers on motorcycles during their time at the Academy. It must be others who live or work on base on those bikes.
    • reply
      by L on Sep 4, 2011 at 06:25 PM in reply to See it every week
      From my understanding, cadets are prohibited from operating or riding as passengers on motorcycles during their time at the Academy. It must be others who live or work on base on those bikes.
  • by D Location: Colorado Springs on Sep 4, 2011 at 12:20 PM
    Jon, Please don't criticize then AFA security forces for doing their jobs by protecting the base from unauthorized access. You probably haven't been in the military or involved with security operations, and you would probably be one of the first to criticize if they were too lax in their response to a seemly innocent situation that turned out to be a real threat. They handled the situation professionally which is more than can be said for the balloon crew member who created a situation by trying to gain unescorted access to an Air Force installation.
    • reply
      by Jon on Sep 4, 2011 at 01:27 PM in reply to D
      Yes, I have previously been involved in military security operations. That's why I think this one was a typical cluster.
    • reply
      by Tony on Sep 4, 2011 at 03:05 PM in reply to D
      Thanks D. These spoiled rich ballon pilots think they can land where ever they want bacause "they're at the mercy of the winds." The crew got upset because the AFA followed protocol. Try a different hobby if you're so upset.
    • reply
      by lol'd on Sep 4, 2011 at 08:36 PM in reply to D
      Yeah. The 10 story tall brightly colored bags of hot air that can barely be steered pose a MAJOR security risk. It's not like you can see them coming or anything... espcially during a yearly event which has permission to fly over the base.
      • reply
        by Bill on Sep 6, 2011 at 06:57 PM in reply to lol'd
        Emphasis on fly, not land.
  • by Ray Location: Home on Sep 4, 2011 at 12:09 PM
    I know first hand how lacking Air Force leadership can be, after Hurricane Katrina. It was a very eye opening experience!
    • reply
      by jazzcat on Sep 5, 2011 at 08:19 AM in reply to Ray
      As I was assigned to one of the Air Force bases supporting Katrina operations, I call BS on your comment. The AF did an excellent job during Katrina. The failure was on civil authorities within Louisiana and the residents who failed to prepare for/evacuate prior to Katrina.
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