9 Hot Air Balloon Passengers Rescued at Sea

A wakeboarding boat in the right place at the right time saved the passengers.

ByABC News
May 23, 2016, 9:44 AM

— -- Passengers were forced to abandon their hot air balloon when uncooperative wind conditions pulled it off course and over Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne, Australia.

The standard operating procedures in the event of a balloon going over water is to "contact the water police immediately and they coordinate with emergency services," explained balloon operator Daniel Crock. However, the basket had no flotation devices or life jackets.

Luckily, a father and son out wakeboarding saw the balloon descending towards the water.

"Dad starts going quicker and he goes, 'You need to come in now. We got to get this hot air balloon'" son Jack Abbott recalled of the rescue situation.

With nowhere else to go, the hot air balloon delicately came down to rest on the deck of the motorboat that was at the right place at the right time.

Each time a passenger jumped off, the balloon became lighter, causing it to float upwards again, which meant they could only come off one at a time to allow the pilot to re-calibrate and repeat the process.

Once all nine passengers were safely aboard the boat, the reduced weight of the basket allowed the pilot to find wind and navigate to Mount Martha, a nearby beach.

Despite the close call, passenger Johnny Simmons said, "Yeah, I’d do it again."

Authorities are investigating the safety of hot air balloons after the potential threats raised in the rescue at sea.