ONE minute they were celebrating their engagement – the next, a couple from Basingstoke were involved in an unexpected landing after the hot air balloon they were travelling in came down in a residential area of the town.

Romantic James Taylor decided to pop the question to his partner of seven years, Carly Quick, aboard a Virgin balloon flight which set off from the Four Seasons Hotel, in Dogmersfield, on Tuesday.

But no sooner had he put a ring on 26-year-old Carly’s finger than the couple found themselves coming down surrounded by houses and trees in the Kempshott area of Basingstoke at 3.15pm.

Carly, a veterinary nurse, said the proposal came as a huge surprise, adding: “He spent the last year convincing me he wasn’t going to do it!”

Although the landing site was unexpected, Carly said she wasn’t scared, adding: “It was really smooth.”

James, 32, who works in IT, said: “I was planning on doing it, and we had this week off. We see hot air balloons flying over all the time and I thought it would be a nice surprise. I had planned it a few months ago.”

James proposed in the traditional way, going down on one knee, despite the limited space inside the balloon, which had 12 people on board.

The couple, from Hatch Warren, who have been together for seven years, toasted their engagement after helping to pack away the balloon on the green area off Kestrel Road, watched by residents who had come out of their houses to see the landing.

David Jeeworth, of Plover Close, said: “This is the second time a balloon has landed here. It was a few years ago that one landed here before. I was watching TV and I saw it coming down.”

Mark Shemilt, the balloon pilot, said he was initially heading for War Memorial Park, but ended up landing in the residential area after realising the wind was not strong enough to carry the balloon any further.

He added: “We have limited control of steerage. Balloons are the first and most primitive form of aircraft so we can’t always choose where we want to land. I’m looking for spots where we can’t do any damage. At this time of year, it’s quite wet so the priority is accessibility and not to get stuck.”

Mr Shemilt said proposals are a common occurrence on hot air balloon flights, and he gave the happy couple a bottle of bubbly to celebrate.