12:08PM, Tuesday 04 July 2017
A hot air balloon made for an unusual sight above Maidenhead town centre this morning (Tuesday) as it came down to land on Maidenhead Golf Course.
The bright red Virgin-branded inflatable was spotted by eagle-eyed commuters across the town, including over Maidenhead Railway Station at about 9am.
It was seen landing on the 18th fairway at the golf course, in Shoppenhangers Road, shortly afterwards.
A spokesman for Virgin Balloon Flights said the landing was 'perfectly normal' and confirmed it had been one of the company’s regular flights and had probably launched from Henley or Great Missenden.
The firm added that as the balloons cannot be steered like traditional aircraft they simply have to follow the wind direction.
As a result, aviation law allows pilots to land wherever there is ‘a large enough, clear open space’, such as a golf course.
A spokesman for Virgin Balloon Flights has issued an extended statement on today's landing.
It says: "This morning’s flight took off from our Henley-On-Thames launch site at about 7.15am, with passengers enjoying a wonderful hour in the air before coming in to land at Maidenhead Golf Club shortly after 8.15am.
"Hot air balloons can’t be ‘steered’ in the traditional sense like other aircraft. Instead they travel where the wind takes them and are brought in to land by our highly skilled pilots where they see a large enough, clear and open space, as per aviation law.
"While this is often out in the countryside, when it is in a more populated area they can cause a bit of excitement due to their huge size.
"We landed on the golf course, in the rough away from fairway itself and after packing the balloon away, our 15 passengers celebrated with a traditional Champagne toast just off the 18th hole before heading on their way by about 9.30am."
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