A CHILD’s birthday balloon sparked panic when it came within inches of a plane’s jet engine.
The silver inflatable floated perilously close to the aircraft’s wing just after take-off.
The air scare was rated a Category A event by the UK Airprox Board — which monitors and probes near-miss events.
Its report said: “With no time to react, the balloon just missed the port wing, passing underneath.”
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After the Beriev Be-200 landed at Stansted, Essex, the pilot was told by air traffic control: “Just to let you know the party balloon turned out to be a number seven.”
Near-misses involving balloons and drones are on the rise, with more than 400 such incidents in the past five years.