Hot air balloon lands on Vermont highway median after being stalled in flight

HARTFORD, Vt. (AP) — A hot air balloon made an emergency landing on a highway median in Vermont after becoming stalled in flight.

Five people were aboard for a sunset ride Wednesday night when the pilot landed the craft safely on the Interstate 91 median in Hartford, the Valley News reported.

Drivers reported seeing the balloon hovering 30 feet (about nine meters) in the air over the road before it landed, according to the Hartford Fire Department. Traffic was shut down for about 20 minutes while the balloon was landing.

“The pilot-in-command of the aircraft made a precautionary decision as sunset was nearing to land safely rather than taking unnecessary risk," Quechee Balloon Rides said in a statement. "Our team informed local authorities and officials prior to landing of our intentions so they could assist in ensuring a safe landing,”

Balloonist Chris Ritland “did a good job of landing the balloon safely in the median and avoiding any issues,” the Hartford Fire Department said in a statement.

Two years ago, a hot air balloon pilot and designer died in Bradford, Vermont, after becoming entangled in gear underneath the basket and then falling into a field.