New Lenox residents got an unexpected show Tuesday evening, when a pilot out for a leisurely flight in a hot air balloon plopped it down in an open field on Joliet Highway.
Bill Buchar, of Joliet, took off from Joliet Regional Airport and was eyeing the general New Lenox area for a place to set it down.
Wind picked up and carried the balloon in the direction of a field at Joliet Highway and Bluestone Bay Drive. It was as good as it gets for a landing spot, Buchar said.
Despite residents' shock at seeing the massive aircraft in such a residential area, Buchar said the field was a smart place to land. Onlookers often think hot air balloon pilots "aim" for a specific landing zone, he said, but really it's a general area, then wherever the wind takes you.
"It's very common within the course of a flight to have two or three different (landing) locations picked out," said Buchar, also a commercial pilot. "A vacant clearing is an ideal place to land."