A hot air balloon pilot died after he fell from it on the border of New Hampshire and Vermont Thursday. Four passengers survived.
The pilot took off with four people in the balloon from Post Mills Airport in Thetford, Vermont, late Thursday afternoon. Some time later, the balloon began to descend and briefly touched down in a field. When the balloon made contact with the ground, the basket tipped, and one passenger fell out.
During this sequence, the pilot became entangled in gear affixed to the balloon as it re-ascended and ended up entrapped underneath the basket, where he eventually fell to the ground from a height. The pilot landed in a field off Waits River Road and was pronounced dead on scene.
The balloon continued north for about 1.5 miles until it became caught in a grove of trees in Piermont, New Hampshire, at which point the three passengers remaining in the balloon were able to climb down safely. None of the four passengers were injured.
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Police withheld the pilot's identity pending notification of relatives. His body is being transported to the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Burlington for an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration, along with the Vermont Agency of Transportation and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, are aware of the incident. Members of the NTSB and FAA are expected to respond Friday morning and lead the investigation into what occurred.
No further information was immediately available.