Passenger hurt as wind gust hits landed hot air balloon in west Edmonton

One passenger was taken to hospital with a possible broken arm Tuesday evening after a wind gust toppled the basket on a hot air balloon that had just landed in west Edmonton.

The balloon, operated by Ontario-based Sundance Balloons, had just completed a sightseeing flight across the city with a pilot and 10 passengers on board, the company said in a statement issued Monday.

The balloon had landed in the area of 62nd Avenue and 215th Street around 8:15 p.m., when a strong gust of wind sent two passengers tumbling out of the basket. 

“The balloon made a completely lovely and routine evening sightseeing flight. It landed as per normal, very routinely,” Sundance Balloons spokesperson Jeff Chatterton said in an interview Tuesday. 

“The gondola of the basket itself settled to the ground and the pilot began to deflate the large envelope of hot air above them. 

“As that was happening, the wind actually took a fairly dramatic shift and turned the basket on its side. That’s not anything we would like to see and it’s certainly rare.”

Watch: Wind picks up as hot air balloon touches down in Edmonton.

The pilot contacted first responders. One of the passengers was taken to hospital to be evaluated for a possible broken arm, Chatterton said.

There were no reports of other injuries.

The company has reported the incident to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, Chatterton said.

Chatterton said hot air balloon pilots are highly trained to navigate and anticipate any changes in wind conditions.

“Normally, the winds are quite predictable at that time of the evening, which is why we fly at that point,” Chatterton said. 

“You don’t see balloons flying in the middle of the day when the winds are a lot more turbulent. Balloons go where the wind takes them.” 

A video posted to social media shows the balloon coming in low over the rooftops of houses in the Granville neighbourhood before making landfall south of Granville Park on a stretch of grass near a construction site. 

Chatterton said the open field was the intended landing site.

“Obviously, you can’t land without becoming low in the sky,” he said. “And people, if they’re not used to seeing balloons over their house, that tends to raise an eyebrow.

“But our information is that everything was a completely normal and routine landing up until they began to deflate the envelope.”