Buckden schoolchildren surprised as Virgin hot air balloon lands

image copyrightBuckden CE Primary Academy
image captionThe children were said to be "squealing with joy" as the balloon landed at the school

Schoolchildren were given an impromptu lesson about flight, when a hot air balloon unexpectedly landed on their playing field.

The Virgin balloon - with 16 passengers and a pilot - made a controlled landing at Buckden CE Primary Academy in Cambridgeshire just after 09:00 BST.

All 330 pupils were taken outside "in an orderly manner" to see the balloon.

The pilot then gave them an unscheduled lesson on balloon flight which was "very exciting", the school said.

The giant red Virgin Balloon Flights hot air balloon had taken off from nearby Huntingdon Racecourse at about 08:00, a spokeswoman for the company said.

image copyrightChristian Payne
image captionThe hot air balloon skirted over houses and landed on a school playing field

"They had a lovely one-hour flight, then the pilot had to look for a suitable landing spot," she said.

"You can't steer a balloon, you go in the direction the wind takes you, so the pilot looks for an open space."

image copyrightChristian Payne
image captionIt was a controlled landing and all passengers were collected and driven away, the company said
image copyrightTizzy Page
image captionA giant hot air balloon had never landed at the school before, teachers said

Deputy head teacher Michelle Heather said the school's playing field had never been chosen as a landing site before, but it was "very, very exciting".

After the 16 passengers were safely escorted from the premises, the pilot - Peter Philpott - said he would be happy to stay behind and teach the children about balloons, Mrs Heather said.

With the pupils safely sat on the playing field "he explained all about the history of ballooning and how it all worked", she said.

He also fired up the burners once the balloon had been deflated and removed.

"It was a really nice thing to have happened as we've all had quite a year," she added.

image copyrightBuckden CE Primary Academy
image captionThe pilot fired up the burners and gave the entire school a lesson on balloon flight

A number of people captured photographs and videos of the balloon as it skirted the roofs of nearby houses before landing.

Christian Payne could not help but notice the huge red balloon above his head, and heard the schoolchildren "squealing with joy".

"I was really impressed that the teachers took the pupils out and turned this into a lesson," he said.

"It's got to be about the most exciting thing that's happened in a classroom recently."

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