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Hot air balloon lands on pontoon boat; balloonists and boaters become friends

Hot air balloon makes landing on pontoon boat. (WWMT/Courtesy Kaylee Kuczka)

With dwindling fuel and little wind, a group of hot air balloonists got some help landing in an unusual place: on a pontoon boat floating in a Calhoun County lake.

Craig Campbell was piloting his hot air balloon over St. Mary's Lake in Bedford Township when he realized he was running low on fuel.

Then, he spotted a pontoon boat on the water.

"It was a first-time experience," Campbell said.

He had started the day piloting the hot air balloon with two friends. After reaching an elevation of 1,500 feet, Campbell said, he started to descend in order to find a good landing spot. Campbell had intended to land in the lake but the winds were changing, making it difficult.

"There was no landing spots," Campbell said.

Campbell said a nearby pontoon boat was a sure bet. As he hovered over Kaylee Kuczka's pontoon boat, he asked for help.

"They said come down there, we need your help. We’re running low on fuel, can you help us get to the land?" Kuczka said.

Despite a boat filled with her family and little children, Kuczka and her family made room at the front of the pontoon to allow the balloon to land safely.

"We landed right on top, then they slowly brought us in. It was a lot of fun and really interesting," Campbell said.

Kaylee Kuzcka's parents were celebrating their anniversary out on the boat. For their troubles, Campbell offered the couple a complimentary ride in his balloon.

Members of Kuzcka family said they've struck up a friendship with Craig Campbell after this experience.

"That's how friends are made," Campbell said.

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