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Doug Aitken's Hot Air Balloon Makes An Unintended Landing Near An Andover Highway

Pilot Andy Richardson said it was the perfect morning for a hot air balloon ride.

It was the unintended landing site, on a grassy triangular field where Route 28 and Route 125 intersect, that was unplanned. The balloon briefly blocked traffic Monday around 8 a.m. in Andover as it was deflated. It was later carried away in a truck.

Jim Piraino posted a picture of the balloon deflating on Facebook:

That is the nature of ballooning Richardson said. You never really know where the winds might carry you.

The reflective hot air balloon is a site-specific art installation called "New Horizon." The brainchild of Los Angeles artist Doug Aitken, the balloon is intended to show off the natural beauty of the land that surrounds it. It's appearing at several Massachusetts properties maintained by the Trustees of Reservations this month. The flight Monday morning carried a press crew from WGBH.

“Ballooning is one of those things where you just take what Mother Nature kind of deals to you and you use those cards to your advantage,” Richardson said. “There was really nothing wrong with what we did this morning it was just a unique location to actually put a hot air balloon down.”

It began its trip Monday at the Stevens-Coolidge Place in North Andover. The morning was calm and they floated due south before making an unintended, but controlled landing right off the highway, according to Richardson.

On the Stevens-Coolidge Place Facebook page, one mother commented that her 5-year-old squealed with delight when she saw the balloon float by over breakfast.

Lieutenant Edward Guy, spokesman for the Andover Police Department is used to seeing hot air balloons in the area this time of year. Guy said state police handled the scene, which reported no injuries, while Andover Police diverted traffic from the exit, which was blocked as the balloon deflated.

“It was all cleaned up in a short period,” Guy said. “It was not a problem, just a minor inconvenience.”

Richardson said their total trip this morning was an hour and 15 minutes.

“When the cops got there and realized nothing was wrong they actually kept telling the motorists to keep driving because everybody was going to roll [their windows] down and take pictures,” he said.

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Cristela Guerra Twitter Reporter
Cristela Guerra is an arts and culture reporter for The ARTery.

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