PHOENIX -- Five people aboard a hot-air balloon, including two Canadian couples visiting the Valley, escaped injuries when windy conditions forced the pilot to make a hard landing Tuesday morning.
The pilot, Dwayne Osborne, had taken off from Gilbert with the tour group shortly before 6 a.m. and had planned to land in Chandler. Osborne is employed by Aerogelic Hot Air Ballooning.
Winds were forecast to be only about 5 mph with gusts about 15 mph. However, when the balloon was in the air, winds whipped up closer to 30 mph, Osborne said.
Osborne said the winds forced him to make an impromptu landing in a Scottsdale cotton field.
Osborne said he navigated the craft away from power lines and was able to get the basket of the balloon on the ground safely after bouncing three times and being dragged by the wind about a quarter of a mile.
Strong winds on Tuesday morning led to the cancellation or postponement of flights by some hot-air balloon outfits, including Hot Air Expeditions.