POCKLINGTON resident John Newstead wasn’t going to let the fact that it was Friday the 13th and within days of the Titanic disaster’s anniversary put him off going up in a hot balloon.
But he might have wished he’d thought again after his ride crash-landed on the edge of a lake with the balloon envelope caught up in live electric cables.
Luckily John, the pilot and the other eight passengers all escaped unscathed from the dramatic landing which saw the balloon dragged over a fence, up and over an embankment before crashing literally feet from the edge of a lake in Haddesley.
For bus driver John it was a case of third time unlucky as his flight from York Racecourse had already been cancelled twice due to bad weather.
But despite the drama which brought his two-hour trip to an end, thrill-seeker John said he would definitely take to the skies in a balloon again.
“I wasn’t ever scared,” he said.
“We were just about to touch down when a gust of wind took us up again and the pilot told us all to assume the crash position.
“The nine of us were all crouched in the bottom of the basket so we couldn’t actually see what was happening - which was probably a good thing thinking about it!
“When we came to rest with the balloon envelope all tangled up in the electricity wires, we could hear the lines crackling.
“But even then I knew that there was no metal in the basket so I wasn’t worried.”
Commenting on the fact that the incident happened within two-days of the 100th anniversary of the Titantic sinking, John said: “If I’d have known that I would’ve stood up at the front of the basket and outstretched my arms like Leonardo DiCaprio!
“When I got out and saw just how close we were to landing in the lake, I just thought that we were lucky not to have got very wet.
“Everybody took it all in good spirit and nobody was hurt other than the pilot’s pride - he said that he’d never had something like that happen to him in seven years of flying balloons.
The pilot was left contacting the police and power company to switch off the current before any attempt could be made to recover the balloon, while the ground crew transported John and the other passengers back to York for a champagne reception.
The flight run by Adventure Balloons had left from York Knavesmire at 7am and travelled south towards Selby over Naburn and Acaster Malbis.
When it hit the power lines at around 8.45am, the electricity tripped but no households were left without power for more than a few seconds as the supply was automatically rerouted.
John, who lives in Cherry Orchard Mews and drives a school bus for Pocklington School, remains delighted with the trip despite the ending, and said: “I love to do it again!”