Horse breeder and spelling-farm owner Stephen Butcher is frustrated by the lack of respect by hot air balloon operators who inadvertently frightened his horses and cattle.
Horse breeder and spelling-farm owner Stephen Butcher is frustrated by the lack of respect by hot air balloon operators who inadvertently frightened his horses and cattle. . Marc Stapelberg

Farmer shocked by hot air balloons

A TREGEAGLE farmer got a shock before Christmas when parachutists began jumping from two hot air balloons flying above his property.

Steven Butcher said he had 21 stud horses worth "hundreds of thousands of dollars" at his Rous Rd farm at the time.

"I woke up to hear the horses hitting the gates and going ballistic because the first balloon was just so low and the roar of the fire and gas was incredible," he said.

"Next minute I looked up and all these sky divers jumped out (of the balloons) and the animals were just going crazy."

Mr Butcher said the horses were being prepared for sale in the Magic Millions auction for world-class thoroughbreds.

"I was trying to prepare horses for the Magic Millions sale at the Gold Coast and this is my property, but they didn't show any consideration to animals, my farm or my business."

He said he had not given permission for the sky divers to land over his property and their be- haviour was disrespectful.

"It's a pretty major thing when you have a stud farm and 12 parachutists coming down and two balloons. The second balloon was full of clients screaming at six o'clock in the morning" he said. Mr Butcher believes the same company was involved in the incident at his farm.

Byron Bay Ballooning chief pilot Thomas Dattler said his company did fly from Marom Creek over Tregeagle but they had not broken any laws.

"We are ... in our rights to fly at tree height or 10 feet which is about three metres above ground; that's the minimum height we can fly at," he said.

Mr Dattler said it was legal for parachutists to jump out of his company's balloons but where they land was not his business.

"As soon as they are out of the balloon they are under the guidelines of the parachute federation and it is nothing to do with us," he said.

"As far as I know we haven't landed any balloons without permission. If we did ... and he calls me I will apologise and mark it on the map so we know not to fly over there again."

 

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