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10:42 PM Sun, Nov. 18th

Hot-air balloon lands hard near Mayer; passengers injured in crash

The basket of the wayward hot-air balloon is loaded on a trailer near Mayer, Ariz. to return to the Verde Valley. <i>Photo courtesy of YCSO</i>

The basket of the wayward hot-air balloon is loaded on a trailer near Mayer, Ariz. to return to the Verde Valley. <i>Photo courtesy of YCSO</i>

A hot-air balloon that took off from Cottonwood made a hard landing near Mayer on Monday morning after inadvertently flying over Mingus Mountain in high winds.

The incident occurred around 8 a.m. on April 14 in Old Cordes, about eight miles from Mayer.

Mayer Fire District personnel contacted Yavapai County Sheriff's Office around 9 a.m. to request help as they treated passengers at the station for minor injuries.

According to the early report, YCSO did not respond to the first notification of the accident because the balloon's crew indicated help was not needed.

According to YCSO spokesman Dwight D'Eveyln, the balloon is owned by Arizona Balloon Works in Cottonwood. Carrying 10 people including the pilot, it lifted off from Black Canyon Wash near Cottonwood intending to fly to a landing zone in Camp Verde.

"As a result of unpredictable winds, the balloon was forced over Mingus Mountain and into the Old Cordes community where the landing took place," D'Evelyn stated. "During the landing, the passenger basket struck the ground several times and traveled about 150 yards before coming to rest. The rough landing resulted in minor injuries to at least four of the nine passengers."

The balloon company's chase crew arrived at the landing site and transported all passengers to the Mayer Fire Station. The injured were then taken to Verde Valley Medical Center.

The FAA and NTSB were notified and will assume control of the investigation.