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

CW39

Police say the balloon (not pictured) was attempting to land when the pilot became entangled underneath the basket. (Getty Images)

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(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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