Legendary Vermont pilot dies after falling from hot air balloon; passengers fly across state line

The pilot of a hot air balloon in Vermont died after he was tangled in the gear underneath the basket and fell to his death, according to state authorities.

On Thursday afternoon, four passengers boarded the hot air balloon alongside the pilot, identified as Brian Boland, 72, of Post Mills, Vermont. After taking off, Vermont State Police said the balloon descended and touched down in a nearby field.

When the balloon hit the ground, one passenger fell out but was unharmed. However at the same time, authorities said Boland “became entangled in gear affixed to the balloon as it re-ascended and ended up entrapped underneath the basket.”

Shortly after, Boland fell into another field and was pronounced dead at the scene, state police said.

The passengers in the hot air balloon remained aloft as they crossed the state line into New Hampshire. There, the hot air balloon became caught in a grove of trees in the border city of Piermont. The three passengers were able to climb down the trees without any injuries.

The four passengers were identified as Roger Blake, 73, Ellen Blake, 67, their daughter Emily Blake 37, and her child, according to WCVB.

Boland had been a balloon pilot for over 40 years.

“The guy was a legend in his own time,” Scott Wright, the owner of the Silver Maple Lodge in Fairlee, Vermont, which offered packages that included flights in Boland’s balloons, told The Associated Press.

David Bristol, a fellow pilot and repairman at HEAD Balloons, wrote in a Facebook post that Boland “was the father of the Experimental Balloon Movement and he did a lot to promote the sport of Hot Air Ballooning.”

Vermont State Police said the investigation of the accident was going to be handled by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jord_mendoza.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Vermont pilot Brian Boland dies in hot air balloon accident

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