Pilot of hot air balloon dies in freak accident after getting stuck under basket

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In a harness he created, Brian Boland, of Post Mills, Vt., takes off attached to a hot-air balloon with a passenger above Westshire Elementary School in West Fairlee, Vt., on Feb. 26, 2013. Boland, 72, the pilot of a hot-air balloon that had been carrying a total of five people, died Thursday, July 15, 2021, after becoming entangled in gear underneath the basket and then falling to the ground in Bradford, Vermont State Police said. Some after take off, the balloon touched down in a field and one passenger fell out, but was unhurt. After the pilot’s death, three other passengers remained in the balloon until it caught in a grove of trees about 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) farther north in Piermont, New Hampshire, where they escaped without injury. (Jennifer Hauck/The Valley News via AP)

(NEXSTAR) – The pilot of a hot air balloon died in a freak accident on Thursday after becoming entangled under the basket, Vermont State Police have confirmed.

Police say the pilot and four passengers took off in the balloon from Post Mills Airport in Orange County, Vermont, sometime in the late afternoon. The balloon later attempted to land in a field, at which point the basket tipped and one of the passengers fell out. The pilot also became “entrapped” in the gear underneath the basket.

The balloon began to ascend once more, lifting off with three passengers and the entangled pilot. The pilot later fell “from a height” only miles from the New Hampshire border, where he was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

The hot air balloon continued flying over the New Hampshire border with the three remaining passengers “until it became caught in a grove of trees.” All three were able to climb down to safety, police said in an update issued Friday morning.

The identity of the pilot was not publicly released. The four other individuals on Thursday’s balloon ride were uninjured.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be leading an investigation into the incident, according to the Vermont State Police.

News of Thursday’s incident comes almost three weeks after a hot air balloon plunged to the ground in New Mexico and caught fire after hitting a power line. All five people involved in the crash were killed.

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