- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A pair of Germans forced to land a gas air balloon in a Nebraska soybean field because of bad weather have learned why Nebraskans are considered nice.

Heinz-Otto and Marion Lausch were one of seven teams participating in an international ballooning competition earlier this month, the Lincoln Journal Star reported (http://bit.ly/1sXqoZs). They departed from New Mexico, traveling for more than 45 hours and 675 miles until thunderstorms forced them to land in a soybean field near Alvo, Nebraska.

Marion Lausch went looking for help, but couldn’t find anyone at a nearby farmhouse. The crew following them was 100 miles away.

Soon, deputies with the Cass County sheriff’s office arrived. The field’s owner had called police after spotting the balloon dropping onto her land around midnight. The next morning, she came out and apologized, inviting the couple and their crew in for coffee and homemade cookies.

The couple ended up placing fourth in the 19th America’s Challenge, part of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Competitors travel as far as they can with a fixed amount of gas. The top honors went to a Spanish team that flew more than 53 hours and nearly 1,200 to Campbellsville, Kentucky.

“Now we can say: There are very friendly people living in Nebraska,” Heinz-Otto Lausch said.

In the competition, the only items participants can have on board are navigation instruments, weights such as sandbags, food, water and clothing.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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