Balloons typically don't land at airports. Landing and launches from private property are common and it is important to respect the property of others. In the ideal situation of landing on private property, the crew will have found and asked permission of the land owner prior to landing and will have reported this information by radio to the pilot. Very often this is not the case, since the pilot may have to make the landing before all this happens.
Be extremely courteous and inform the landowner that your crew would like permission to land and recover the balloon. Assure them that you will exercise caution to protect their property and ask (if possible) if the recovery vehicle can drive to the balloon. If the balloon has landed in crops or is in an inaccessible area, the balloon system may need to be carried out. Be careful where you step as farmers count on their crops for their livelihood.
Most landowners don't mind having balloons land on their property, provided care was taken not to produce damage. In that regard, never drive onto private property without permission first. Also, be aware that on-lookers may want to follow you in. Only the recovery vehicle is needed. Keep everyone else out.
In a rare occasion when a landowner is upset about the landing, communicate this to the pilot discretely. The pilot may elect to fly on. If it is too late for that and you are faced with an upset landowner, do not argue with them. Indicate to the landowner that you will get the pilot and the pilot only will deal with the landowner. Remember that it is their land, and that you are trespassing!
- Carry a radio with you when going to ask permission to land
- Communicate discretely any issues to the pilot
- Never cut a fence or open a locked gate
- Never argue with a landowner
- Bring balloon cards with you to give to the landowner
- Be courteous, even if it is painful
- Be aware of dogs - not all are friendly and balloons may scare them
- If you encounter a major conflict, have someone call 9-1-1