A hot air balloon "panicked" residents in Northampton when it descended into a residential garden yesterday evening.
The emergency landing happened about 6.30pm in Squires Walk in Spinney Hill, near the Spinney Hill Pub.
Eyewitness Sam Secker said: “One of my dogs was barking like mad, we had just finished dinner and I could see it from the corner of my eye while washing up. My son ran upstairs to record from his bedroom and that’s when he came running down saying it’s hit a tree.
“We ran up to the Kettering Road, there were people running towards where it was going down from all directions so they must have been a bit panicked the same as us.
“The trailer that the balloon got picked up in, turned up while we were there and that’s when we left, we just wanted to make sure they were okay.
“I’d say there were three or four blokes. It was a shock we thought they were going to smack into a chimney or something as it was hovering low for a good 10-20 minutes. Luckily, it didn’t look like anyone was hurt.”
Edward Lubbock, national landowner relations officer with the British Balloon and Airship Club, said: “The pilot carried a tracker with him, which is common, and from that we can see that the early part of the flight was normal.
“He had received a weather forecast from the Met Office beforehand, as is standard, and it did not predict any problems.
“He had the intention of landing at Abington Park. But when he came down low there was a change in the conditions. The balloon got caught in a thermal.”
Thermals are areas of rising warm air, which form currents that can blow balloons off course.
Mr Lubbock continued: “The balloon was going up and coming down of its own accord. The option of landing on the park as planned was no longer possible.
“The pilot, who I will say is very experienced, considered his options, and was obviously over a built-up area. He took the safest option which was to pilot the balloon into the fir trees. The balloon was also fitted with a rapid descent system - which releases all the air from the balloon in seconds - so once he had made contact with the trees he used that system to rapidly bring the balloon safely to the ground.
“There was no damage to property or injuries to people, so it was a successful landing.
“In a difficult situation, the pilot took the safest option.
“I have spoken to the pilot, and he said that in all his years of flying, he had never come across a situation like that.
“There is no denying it though - it was an emergency landing.”
Officers from Northamptonshire Police were called to the scene.
A spokeswoman said: “We were called at 6.40pm to reports of a hot air balloon flying low and then landing in a back garden in Squires Walk yesterday, Sunday, April 2.
“No one was injured in the incident.”