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Vast 'Cloud 9' sky-wedding balloon destroyed in Vegas prang

Disappointed punters offered baby rhino fondle instead

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An eleven-story-high helium balloon used for aerial parties and sightseeing has crashed to the ground and been destroyed by a storm in Las Vegas, fortunately with no-one on board. The owners intend to offer visitors a petting zoo while a replacement balloon is constructed.

The Cloud Nine balloon, described as "the largest helium-filled land-tethered balloon in the world", made its inaugural flight last October, hoisting 30 punters to 500 feet above the Las Vegas Strip.

Cloud Nine management even offered the chance to hire the entire balloon, for private parties or airborne weddings. The helium-filled envelope was illuminated from within, and visible from miles away.

According to one local report at the time, "one child per adult under five is complimentary".

In the following months the tethered 210,000-cubic-foot gasbag ("taller than the Statue of Liberty") carried many happy customers above the desert city on its circular gondola walkway.

But then, this week, disaster struck. FOX5 news reports that a heavy wind storm on Thursday night forced the tied-down balloon towards the ground, battering it severely until the fabric ruptured and the expensive helium within escaped.

“I don’t think you can expect something like this,” chief pilot Chris Monroe told FOX5. “We took a lot of heart and pride in the balloon and so we were definitely saddened by that ... Vegas has strong winds, for sure.”

Cloud Nine management seem undaunted by the mishap, saying on their website:

Keep your eyes on the sky! Cloud 9 Entertainment is planning to replace the Cloud 9 Balloon Ride with a bigger and better Las Vegas Attraction!

"Regardless of whether that happens, the company still plans to move forward with plans for a petting zoo at the location," reports FOX5.

Cloud Nine seem to be standing by that, promising disappointed balloon-riders an experience involving "baby rhinos, zebras, giraffes, camels and SO MUCH MORE" instead. ®

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