CARDIFF-BY-THE-SEA, Calif. – Surfers came to the rescue of newly engaged couple that was aboard a hot air balloon making an emergency landing off the coast of Cardiff-by-the-Sea Sunday.
A hot balloon hovered low over coastal homes in Cardiff around 6:30 p.m. after experiencing altitude issues, according to Encinitas lifeguard Capt. Larry Giles. Then, the wind shifted causing the pilot to take it over the ocean.
It was the first of its kind rescue for lifeguards but according to reports, its not the first incident for the pilot of the balloon, Timothy Chico.
Chico owns the company “Panda-monium” hot air balloons based out of San Diego. Reports show that in June of last year, Chico unexpectedly landed a balloon near the divider of the 56-freeway. A similar incident took took place in September of last year when Chico landed a balloon in a Del Sur neighborhood.
Fox 5 reached out to Chico for comment however the phone number listed on the company’s website did not accept incoming calls.
Despite the shaky landing, Giles said that the pilot did a great job steering the balloon close to the shore for a safe landing.
The pilot dropped the balloon’s messenger line down to surfers in the water and who helped pull the hot air balloon to the water until lifeguards arrived, Giles said. One of the passengers didn’t know how to swim and was the first to be rescued by lifeguards.
Before the balloon started having problems, a man aboard the balloon proposed to his girlfriend, according the lifeguard captain.
Lifeguards towed the hot air balloon, pilot and newly engaged couple to shore.
“Yeah this is pretty crazy. It was pretty wild. We just talked to hot air balloon people. They’re really great people. They take safety very seriously, and for whatever reason, the atmosphere conditions changed and took them over the water,” Mark Burnz, with Burnz Eye View, said. He was one of many witnesses to the emergency landing and captured dramatic video which he shared with Fox 5.
Giles said the last time lifeguards came to the rescue of a hot air balloon as 14 years ago.
— Josh Baxt (@JoshBaxt) October 6, 2014
Hot air balloons are sketchy. Here is living proof: pic.twitter.com/x8y1NcEH9s
— __ (@MkLupaa) October 6, 2014