Hot air balloon makes hard landing near I-17, injures pilot

Posted: Updated:
A family of four was involved in a hot air balloon hard landing. By Alicia Barron A family of four was involved in a hot air balloon hard landing. By Alicia Barron
A family of four was involved in a hot air balloon hard landing. By Alicia Barron A family of four was involved in a hot air balloon hard landing. By Alicia Barron
A family of four was involved in a hot air balloon hard landing. By Alicia Barron A family of four was involved in a hot air balloon hard landing. By Alicia Barron

PHOENIX - Two people had to go to the hospital after being injured during a hot air balloon hard landing.

The balloon went down near Interstate 17 and Carefree Highway just before 6 p.m. on Monday.

The pilot had to be taken to the hospital to receive medical treatment. She is reportedly suffering from severe road rash and broke her leg in two places right above her ankle. Her friends say she is in good spirits and just happy all of her passengers made it out alive.

A family of four from out of state had been enjoying a hot balloon ride. Larry Smit was taking pictures of balloons in the area when he says he realized something was wrong with the family's balloon and snapped a photograph. He explains, "By how fast it was moving I knew it was gonna hit hard when it came down."

The 49-year-old experienced pilot with Arizona Hot Air Balloons decided to cut the trip short because winds were picking up.

"Pilots are trained to deal with high-wind landings with the balloons. You have a whole lot of fabric sticking up there in the air and it's like a big sail," explains Brad Schroeder, with Arizona Hot Air Balloons.

That sail started dragging the balloon about 80 yards while the pilot tried to open its vent. Schroeder explains, "At one point she was knocked out of the basket and was underneath the basket while it was being drug across the road here and still pulling on that vent line to get the top pulled out."

The pilot broke her leg on the street's curb. One of the family's daughter's had to go to the hospital after she bumped her head on a pole getting out of the balloon.

3TV has learned the little girl just had a headache and went to the hospital as a precaution. Her fellow family members are said to be okay and suffered only bumps and bruises.

Investigators are looking into the cause of the hard landing.