Hot air balloon pilot dies during landing mishap

Jeff Hooten

KIMBERTON, Pa. (AP) – The pilot of a hot air balloon fell from the basket while trying to land in a field near Philadelphia and could not be revived after becoming trapped under it, authorities said Monday.

Jeff Hooten, 47, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, died Sunday after the accident in East Pikeland Township, police said. None of the 10 passengers was injured.

Hooten was reaching to grab a rope to deflate the balloon when he fell, according to police Chief James Franciscus. The pilot was dragged after becoming stuck between the basket and the ground, Franciscus said.

People were performing CPR when officers arrived, but Hooten died later at a hospital, according to police.

A statement from the Federal Aviation Administration said preliminary information indicated that Hooten fell out when the balloon bounced after a hard landing.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating. The NTSB did not have any other details by early Monday afternoon.

The balloon was operated by the U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team of Warwick. Spokesman Stan Hess said he did not want to comment until an autopsy was complete.

The Chester County coroner’s office had not released a cause of death by Monday afternoon. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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