A Linjiang, Jilin Province man remains missing after the hydrogen balloon he was using to pick pine nuts flew out of control and sent him soaring.
The 59-year-old surnamed Bi slipped away from workers on the ground when he mistakenly increased the balloon's altitude while maneuvering among the treetops on September 20.
An initial search for Bi's balloon was hindered due to foggy weather and Bi not carrying his cell phone.
Law enforcement was called and dispatched a helicopter to aid in their search. They have yet to locate Bi or his aircraft.
Local pickers have been using these single-man balloons for the past three years, said local resident surnamed Liu, adding they stand to earn 100 yuan () a day.
Cases involving pine nut pickers and runaway hydrogen balloon are on the rise in the area, the paper reported.
Local authorities say at least seven cases have been reported so far. Each time the picker left adrift has been rescued safely.