This footage shows a giant balloon drifting away near China’s border with North Korea after the two villagers inside became untethered while picking pine cones.
The pair, who have not been named, floated for over 12 kilometres (7 miles) through the Changbai Mountains on China’s border with North Korea before finally landing at a petrol station.
Video Credit: AsiaWire
Authorities in the county of Wanqing, which is in north-eastern China’s Jilin Province, revealed that the pine nut pickers had control of the craft but were afraid a landing would kill them.
A forestry spokesman said of the incident on 21st September: “They knew how to operate the balloon, but they were too scared to land it right away because of all the trees.
“They floated for some time before landing on their own.”
The villagers, who were harvesting pine cones from tall pine trees, were spotted by residents of a nearby town during their flight.
But they were immediately arrested upon landing the hydrogen balloon for breaching Chinese aviation regulations, which require large balloons to be approved before taking flight.
Video Credit: AsiaWire
Shelled pine nuts from China contributed to a 60 percent of global exports in the past five years, a 2018-2019 report by the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council said.
Pine nuts are a main source of income for local villagers who in the past had to climb the trees – capable of growing to 100 feet tall – using spiked shoes.
The introduction of hydrogen-filled gas balloons in recent years has made the work faster and safer.
However, the occupants of the runaway balloon can count themselves lucky.
Another pine nut picker from the same county drifted uncontrollably for more than 60 miles during a similar accident in 2017.
Villager Yin Yanlei became momentarily lost among the clouds after his balloon slipped its moorings and floated away with no controls during pine nut harvest season, which falls between September and October.
With no signal on his phone, Yin recorded what he thought would be a final message to his wife, saying: “It’s over. I must now face the realities of my life – I’m actually flying away.”
His adventure ended several hours later.
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Story By: John Feng, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Asia Wire Report
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