Hot air balloon makes emergency landing in Illinois neighborhood

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LAKE IN THE HILLS, Ill. — It’s not unusual to see hot air balloons in the skies over the far northwest suburbs of Chicago.

But when one landed in the middle of a neighborhood in Lake in the Hills, Illinois, residents were caught off guard. One homeowner caught the whole incident on her surveillance camera.

“We looked out our window and here comes the hot air balloon, like right between the homes here. And then they were waving at us and we’re waving, like, ‘We don’t know, this is awfully close,” she said.

The balloon took off Wednesday morning with six passengers on board. It had been in the air about an hour when one of the passengers became lightheaded.

“She was an elderly lady, probably in her eighties. A bucket list she wanted to fly. And she had just passed out,” said Bob Perkins, who is chief of the ground crew that tracks the balloon when it flies.

He was contacted by pilot Chad Morin.

“We have a two-way radio,” said Morin. “I radioed the crew, and we have a certain kind of language not to alarm anyone. We called it a precautionary landing.”

Morin set the balloon down in the neighborhood and emergency responders were on the scene in seconds.

“The pilot did a fantastic job landing it,” said Greg Pollnow of the Huntley Fire Protection District. “He basically threaded the needle, right between two houses on a residential street.”

The elderly passenger was checked out at the scene and refused transportation to a hospital.

“I think she felt a little embarrassed, even though she had nothing to be embarrassed about,” said Pollnow.

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