Hot Air Balloon Pilot Dies After Falling Out of Basket, Leaving 3 Passengers in Air

The pilot of a hot air balloon died after falling out of the basket in Vermont, leaving three passengers in the air.

According to the Vermont State Police, the incident occurred on Thursday at around 7:45 p.m. local time when troopers were notified of an an incident involving a hot-air balloon in the town of Bradford.

The Vermont State Police said that on Thursday afternoon the hot air balloon took off from the Post Mills Airport with a pilot and four passengers inside the basket. "Some time later" after the balloon took off, it descended and briefly touched down in a field, police said.

"When contact was made with the ground, the basket tipped, and a passenger fell out," the Vermont State Police said.

In addition to the passenger falling out, as the hot air balloon basket made contact with the ground, the pilot "became entangled" in gear that was connected to the balloon.

While entangled in the gear, the balloon continued to ascend back into the sky, leaving the pilot "entrapped underneath the basket," police said.

According to the police, as the pilot was trapped underneath the basket, and the balloon continued to ascend, he eventually fell to the ground "from a height." Police did not release any further information regarding the exact height the balloon reached when the pilot fell from the basket.

"The pilot landed in a field off Waits River Road and was pronounced dead on scene," the Vermont State Police said.

According to the police, after the pilot fell to his death, the hot air balloon continued in the air for about 1.5 miles, crossing state lines toward Piermont, New Hampshire.

After crossing into New Hampshire, the hot air balloon "became caught in a grove of trees" allowing the three remaining passengers to safely climb out to the ground. According to police, none of the four passengers were injured, including the one that fell out of the basket earlier during the ride.

Police said the pilot's body is being transported to the state's Chief Medical Examiner's Office in Burlington, Vermont. The medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the exact cause and manner of death, police said.

Police did not release the name of the pilot who died during the incident and said that his identity will be released after relatives are notified.

"The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration, along with the Vermont Agency of Transportation and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, have been made aware of the incident," the Vermont State Police said. "Members of the NTSB and FAA will respond later Friday morning, July 16, and lead the investigation into what occurred."

Newsweek was directed to the press release after reaching out to the Vermont State Police for comment.

Hot Air Balloon
A hot air balloon pilot recently fell to his death in Vermont, leaving three passengers in the air. Above, hot air balloons soar over Balloon Fiesta Park during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta on October 4, 2008. Christian Petersen/Getty