Just dropping in


A balloon pilot has brushed off concerns about tight landings in a residential area. 

This photo shows a Sunrise Balloons hot air balloon dotting down two weeks ago in Lake Hayes Estate near light poles and a house. 

Sunrise Balloons owner Hugh McLellan says he can’t recall the incident two weeks ago standing out. 

His son and Sunrise Balloons pilot Carrick “Rock” McLellan says he made a similar landing in Lake Hayes Estate on Tuesday morning. 

“It’s not our intention to go over Lake Hayes Estate but sometimes the winds send us that way. 

“Then we have to make the best of the situation and find a safe place to land. 

“It is an intentional landing. It’s not like it’s a crash landing. 

“We’d never put anyone in danger,” Carrick says. 

“Light poles don’t jump out at you. I was going 0.5 of a knot so you’ve got tonnes of time to plan your descent.” 

Last Saturday, 11 people died in a hot air ballooning tragedy north of Wellington. 

In that incident, their balloon apparently hit power lines in Carterton, caught on fire and crashed. 

Hugh McLellan refused to speculate on the causes of the air tragedy in the Wairarapa. 

But he says Sunrise’s operations in the Wakatipu will continue as normal. 

“We’re jumpy too after what happened so don’t worry, we’re being ultra-cautious,” McLellan senior says. 

“We’re not changing our operations in any way,” he adds. 

“I’ve done about 1500 hours now and haven’t had any problems at all. We’re very careful down here. 

“There has been a little bit of negative feedback [after the tragedy], a couple of cancellations, but nothing major. 

We’re still quite busy.” 

Sunrise Balloons has operated in the skies above the resort for 12 years, without incident. 

Geoff Patterson, who took the recent photo, says: “They did it so well – those boys really know what they’re doing. 

“They can put it on a sixpence, full marks to them. 

“It is a wonderful sight to see them in the air and when they land close by that’s even better.” 

Carrick says the latest Lake Hayes Estate landing provided a bit of a thrill for a throng of local kids who rushed 
over to check the balloon out.