An unexpected aerial arrival made a spectacular landing at a Coulsdon beauty spot. 

A hot-air balloon came to rest on a road in Farthing Downs after a controlled descent at 8am yesterday.

It briefly brought traffic to a standstill as its occupants, who had flown from Caterham, packed up the balloon.

The rare sight arose after the balloon was blown off its planned route by a change in wind. 

Pilot Mark Stokoe, 52, said: "We let off a helium balloon before flight and it indicated a nice flight to south-east Dulwich at about four or five knots, heading down and landing somewhere towards Oxted.

"When we took off the wind immediately changed and we headed very slowly north-west, so we had a very gentle potter up to Farthing Downs.

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The ballon landed at the roadside in Farthing Downs (All photos: Chris Sharp Photography)

 "That's the life of ballooning, always fun. It wasn't a crash-landing, it was a deliberate choice to land. It was lovely, beautiful weather. You could see the whole of London - absolutely superb.

"We pulled it down beside the road and got it all onto the grass verge between a gap in the traffic. I think one car had to wait about 20 seconds, but there were no traffic jams."

Mr Stokoe, born in Shirley but now living in Tatsfield, was flying with his 13-year-old son Ben, a pupil at Sunnydown School in Caterham, and a friend. 

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He began flying five years ago "after meeting a bloke in the pub" and become a fully qualified pilot in 2013.

Their balloon was originally made to promote homelessness charity Fly Me Home and was once blessed by a bishop while inflated outside St Paul's Cathedral. 

Balloons usually fly at a height between 500ft and 2,500ft in London air space.

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