Thief takes off with hot air balloon
An American in Quebec for the annual hot air balloon festival has been grounded by a thief.
His truck, balloon and hydraulic lift, valued at around $75,000, were all stolen from his hotel parking lot early Friday morning.
Police are now investigating.
Wes Pittman came from Florida for the international hot air balloon festival in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. this week.
He's been a regular at the festival for the past seven years.
But Pittman said his flying career may be over if his open-cockpit balloon isn't recovered.
"It's just gorgeous," he said. "It's as close as one can be to flying like a bird. I have mixed emotions to go out and find another balloon that I like, have it built. It's a pretty big hassle."
Festival spokeswoman Marie Claude Beauvais said there have been other incidents of hot air balloon theft, but it's not a growing trend.
She hopes others pilots at the festival will get Pittman up in the air one more time before the event ends Sunday.
"It's a very tight community," she said. " I'm sure any pilot will welcome him to be a co-pilot in their balloon."