Pilot dies after fall from hot-air balloon in Vermont

The pilot of a hot-air balloon that was carrying a total of five people is dead after becoming entangled in gear underneath the basket and then falling to the ground in Bradford, Vermont State Police said. Authorities identified the victim as Brian Boland, 72, of Post Mills, Vermont.

The balloon took off from the Post Mills airport Thursday afternoon. Some time later the balloon touched down in a field and one passenger fell out, but was unhurt.

At that point, the pilot became entangled in gear affixed to the balloon as it re-ascended. He eventually fell to the ground in a field where he was pronounced dead.

After the pilot’s death, three other passengers remained in the balloon until it got caught in a grove of trees about 1.5 miles farther north in Piermont, New Hampshire, where they escaped without injury.

Boland was an experienced pilot with thousands of hours logged over a 50-year career, CBS affiliate WCAX-TV reported. The station spoke with him in 2015 as he was trying out an experimental finned balloon he built dubbed “A Fish Called Wanda” for a meeting of the Experimental Balloon and Airship Association.

The incident is being investigated by officials from the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and state transportation officials from Vermont and New Hampshire.

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