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Melbourne mishap for Chinese tourists in hot-air balloon

February 19, 2019 Headline News No Comments

A hot-air balloon carrying Chinese tourists landed unexpectedly in a Melbourne backyard yesterday – while another hot-air balloon came to rest beside a motorway not far away. 

Part of a hot-air balloon ended up in a backyard swimming pool yesterday morning. Incredibly, none of the 17 people in the two balloons were hurt, ABC News reported.

A sudden change in weather conditions was blamed for the forced landings.

Christine Taylor, from Vermont South, told Melbourne radio station 3AW a balloon full of Chinese tourists landed next to her back fence.

She described the incident as “really, really scary” and said she had run down in her pyjamas to see if the people were all right.

“One lady fainted, but the rest, they looked like stunned mullets,” she said.

The company operating one of the balloons said an unexpected wind change forced a “drag landing” (a ballooning term, rather than a reference to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert).

Ambulance Victoria told the ABC a hot-air balloon carrying nine people landed near a highway intersection in Wantirna South and the other balloon carrying eight people landed in Terrara Park in Vermont South, with part of the balloon falling into a neighbouring backyard.

A year ago, an unexpected wind change was thought to have been behind a sudden hot-air balloon “hard landing” in Victoria’s Yarra Valley that flung 16 people out of a basket and sent seven of them to three hospitals.

IN AN EERIE COINCIDENCE, yesterday’s balloon mishap was the third weird Melbourne-related incident in the past four years to coincide with the annual AIME trade show in the Victorian capital.

The 2019 Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo (AIME), a trade event held annually in that city for the meetings and events industry, got underway in Melbourne yesterday.

In 2017, a five-person Beechcraft King Air charter plane went down and crashed into a shopping centre near Melbourne’s Essendon Airport during AIME. It was Victoria’s worst civil aviation accident in 30 years, killing four tourists and a pilot.

The year before, 2016, a charter bus carrying hosted buyers attending AIME slammed into a light-rail bridge in Melbourne’s south, smashing in the whole front and roof of the bus, trapping four passengers and injuring 11 others. No one died in that crash – and mercifully no-one died in yesterday’s balloon incidents either.

While the accidents have no connection with AIME (no one is suggesting a jinx) it’s clearly not the sort of publicity the city seeks during such a widely publicised expo.

Written by Peter Needham

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