Renowned Vermont hot air balloon pilot falls to death after getting caught under basket: ‘Creative genius’

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A hot air balloon pilot died this week after he became trapped underneath the balloon’s basket and fell to his death, the Vermont State Police said. 

Longtime pilot Brian Boland, 72, had left Post Mills Airport in Vermont with four passengers when the balloon started to descend rapidly and touched down in a field. 

The basket tipped and one of the passengers fell out but wasn’t hurt, police said. Boland then became tangled in gear affixed to the balloon and got stuck underneath the basket as it went back up. 

He fell from an unknown height and landed in a field where he was later pronounced dead, according to police. 

The balloon continued to fly for a mile and a half until it got stuck in some trees in Piermont, New Hampshire. 

The remaining three passengers were able to climb down safely and none of the four passengers were hurt. 

Investigators, including those from the Federal Aviation Administration, gather along the Connecticut River and Route 25 in Bradford, Vt., on Friday, July 16, 2021, following the death of a hot-air balloonist. (Associated Press)

Investigators, including those from the Federal Aviation Administration, gather along the Connecticut River and Route 25 in Bradford, Vt., on Friday, July 16, 2021, following the death of a hot-air balloonist. (Associated Press)

At the time, he called ballooning, “A great sport for going nowhere in particular.” 

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Boland was also a world-famous balloon designer, one of the most experienced balloonists in the world and had set several records and won a number of world championships, Vermont’s Rabbit Hill Inn says on its website advertising rides. 

WPTZ reported Boland may have been attempting to switch fuel tanks when the balloon first descended.