Seven Balloons Land On AFA Property

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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 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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