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A well-known pilot was killed after his hot air balloon ran out of fuel mid-flight and briefly plunged to the ground near the border of New Hampshire and Vermont, police said.
Renowned hot air balloonist Brian Boland lifted off with four passengers late Thursday afternoon from Post Mills Airport in Thetford, according to Vermont State Police. At some point during their journey, the air craft began to descend and touched the ground with enough impact to toss one of the passengers from the basket.
Responding crews told NBC 5 that Boland and the rest of the people on board were hustling to change the balloon’s fuel tank during the descent. By the time it began to again lift into the air, the pilot had become “entangled in gear affixed to the balloon” and “ended up entrapped underneath the basket.”
The balloon climbed about 1,000 feet before the pilot ultimately fell to his death, police said. He was 72.
From there, the aircraft continued to travel north for about 1½ miles before it became caught in a grove of trees in Piermont, N.H. The three passengers still in the basket were then able to climb down to safety, state police said.
None of them were injured in the incident.
Boland, a former teacher as well as a hot-air balloon designer, also ran the rural Post Mills Airport. He was well-known within his community, which is now in mourning over his loss.
“We have just learned of the passing of Brian Boland,” the Balloon Federation of America said in a statement. “Our prayers and condolences go out to his family and friends.”