BRADFORD, Vt. — According to Vermont State Police, the pilot of a hot-air balloon transporting a total of five passengers died after becoming caught in gear beneath the basket and then plummeting to the earth near Bradford.
Pilot Brian Boland, 72, of Post Mills, Vermont, became caught in the balloon’s re-ascending gear at that moment. He was finally pronounced dead after he “fell to the earth from a height.”
According to a preliminary investigation on the disaster, the aircraft was a Cameron 0-105 hot air balloon, according to the FAA. The cause of the incident is still being investigated by federal and state investigators.
Boland had a private airfield in the Vermont hamlet of Post Mills, which is located in the town of Thetford, some 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Montpelier, on the Connecticut River border with New Hampshire.
“In his own time, he was a legend,” said Scott Wright, proprietor of the Silver Maple Lodge in neighboring Fairlee, who collaborated with Boland by providing packages that included stays at his lodge and balloon rides.
Last week, a couple who were celebrating their 20th anniversary with a balloon trip stayed at his resort, according to Wright.
Boland was noted for his eccentric undertakings, which included making and selling balloons. When visitors from Switzerland came to town to buy a balloon from Boland, Wright stated they slept at his lodge.
Boland moved to Vermont in the late 1980s to acquire the Post Mills airport, according to Wright, who considered him one of the best balloon pilots in the world.
Boland has been ballooning since 1970, according to the webpage for the trips. According to the website, he has established records and won competitions.
There was no answer Friday at the airport.