She said the pilot was calm and experienced. He and managed to land the plane near the building’s mailboxes, and no one was injured.
“We opened the door and walked out as if nothing had happened,” she said.
“I had a little cry”
Dwojacki’s father Darren captured the ordeal with his GoPro camera, while footage from another person on the balloon shows passengers diving inside the basket as the balloon hits the roof of the apartment and crashes into a tree.
The pilot, Nick Brau, director of Liberty Balloon Flights, said a faulty valve caused him to make his first emergency landing in 27 years of balloon flight. He said he tried to get to the nearby beach for a safe landing, but couldn’t make it.
But he hesitated to call the incident a crash.
“There was a check when we got off. It’s not like we fell from the sky,” Brau told 3AW radio.
“The valve that releases hot air from above, which we use to maneuver the balloon, was not properly sealed. So I was just losing a lot of heat.
It was the balloon’s maiden flight. It is not yet clear what caused the valve to malfunction.
Brau said he had safely recovered the plane, which will now be inspected by the Australian Transport Safety Board as part of its investigation into the incident.
“An independent evaluator will have to examine it. We really don’t know what happened to the ball this morning,” Brau said. “Fortunately, we managed to land it in a place where people were safe.”
Dr Stuart Godley, director of transportation security for the bureau, said investigators traveled to Tiuna Grove on Wednesday morning to collect evidence and began the process of interviewing the pilot, passengers and witnesses in the framework of the investigation.
“Investigators have also recovered the balloon for specialist examination at an independent technical facility and will review the operator’s procedures and records,” Godley said.
A report on the circumstances of the accident will be published at the end of the investigation.
Footage from the area showed the basket caught in the foliage of trees along Tiuna Grove, its web resting on a nearby building.
Elwood resident Karen told 3AW radio she heard a “clonk” but thought it was the trash collection truck.
“Thank God it didn’t land on my house,” she said.
“I actually walked out…I thought it was the garbage man picking up the bins, but it was actually the ball.”
The hot air balloon had been spotted flying low in the area before descending.
Volunteers from the Port Phillip State Emergency Service are on hand to assist those involved.
Paramedics from Ambulance Victoria were not required to attend.
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