AUBURN — A hot air balloon made an unexpected landing in the Kmart parking lot Monday evening, with the eight passengers in the basket unharmed.

Derald Young, pilot for Damn Yankee Balloons, said the flight was going according to plan along the Androscoggin River when an unexpected breeze kicked in around sunset.

At about 6:30 p.m. the balloon began to slow down and crossed the tree line behind the store. The balloon’s chase crew was on scene and communicating with Young about the best options for landing.

According to Young, the intended landing zone was the Auburn Mall area, across Center Street from Kmart.

With concerns about vehicles, traffic and power lines at the far end of the parking lot, Young carefully dropped his lines to his waiting crew. The basket bumped a parking lot light and broke its arm before landing.

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