GALT (CBS13) — A hot air balloon broke loose at a festival in Galt, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing in a field.

Witnesses called it terrifying, some surprised the pilot survived. They said they felt helpless, this pilot’s fate was in his own hands.

“We never give consideration to the fact that perhaps this is somebody’s father, someone’s brother, someone’s dad,” said Joseph Perez, a festival attendee.

Perez was at the Galt Balloon Festival with his family. He said a balloon was in use giving people rides, and all of a sudden, the balloon tethers snapped.

“The balloon went up into the air and as it began to deflate, I thought ‘Oh my gosh, this is going to be a horrible ending,’ ” Perez said.

Two witnesses said part of the balloon caught fire and that wind played a factor.

“The pilot was trying to get control. There was a small fire that I think burned part of the balloon and then the pilot was, after a few seconds, able to land it,” said Debra Bentson.

The pilot ended up in a cornfield with minor injuries. People were chasing after him as he drifted away, but Perez said it still took about 15 minutes to find him and get him help.

“There had to be angels there because the guy survived,” Perez said.

This is the second year the balloon festival has been held in Galt. CBS13 asked fair organizers about additional safety precautions Sunday. Their response was that safety precautions are taken “at all times.”


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