When a hot air balloon landed in a Clovis neighborhood, some residents found it to be a bit of a shock, for the balloon’s pilot Bob Locklin, it was just another safe landing.
The balloon, which took off from an industrial area near Spruce and Rogers avenues in Clovis at about 7:15 a.m. on Sunday, landed in a neighborhood near Cherry Lane and 2nd Street about 45 minutes later.
“We never have an exact landing site,” Locklin said. “I saw the street and that became our landing spot.”
This was not the first neighborhood landing Locklin has performed. He said that there is generally very little traffic on the weekend mornings of his flights, and neighborhood streets can make for smooth, safe landings.
“It’s kind of fun,” Locklin said of his neighborhood drop-ins. “The neighbors get to come out and check it out. Sometimes if there’s kids we let them get on the balloon for a bit.”
Shortly after landing, a team of volunteers that follows the balloon from its launch point shows up to pack the balloon up quickly to clear the street and area.
In a report by ABC30, one of the witnesses of Locklin’s landing said that the balloon came within five feet of their house.
According to Locklin, contact with anyone’s home was not likely.
“I was on a glide path. I knew I was clearing the house, and that wasn’t an issue,” Locklin said. “I think it was more like 10 to 15 feet. But if it had been my house, I’d probably think it was five feet, too.”
Locklin has launched several times from the same site as Sunday’s flight, but said that he has typically flown north, and that this flight’s path was a fun change.
Locklin is involved with other hot air balloon pilots in the area, for whom he does booking for paid flights. This particular flight was for an individual who had previously received a certificate good for a free flight.
Locklin said the attention his flight has received is great for reminding the community of the upcoming Clovis Fest from Oct. 26-27, for which Locklin is the balloon meister for the hot air balloon section of the event.