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Hot Air Balloon Pilot Falls, Leaving Passengers

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LEXINGTON TOWNSHIP, Minn. (WCCO) – A hot air balloon pilot fell out of the balloon’s basket in LeSeuer County Thursday evening, leaving the other passengers adrift.

According to county sheriff Tom Doherty, 64-year-old pilot Edward Chapman, of Jordan, was taking a group of four passengers on an excursion. Chapman is the chief aeronaut for Balloon Ascensions Unlimited.

Sometime before 9 p.m., Chapman apparently tried to land the balloon near County Road 32 because of an increase in wind speeds and the onset of darkness.

The basket struck the road’s east ditch and tipped, ejecting Chapman and leaving the other four still inside.

The balloon eventually came to rest in a field west of the roadway. Three of the passengers were treated at the scene and released. The fourth was taken to Queen of Peace Hospital with minor facial injuries.

Chapman runs Balloon Ascensions Unlimited. The company website says he has set 20 world records in air balloons, and carried more than 5,000 passengers safely.

Federal Aviation Administration investigators are probing the accident.

Chapman, however, was airlifted from the scene and taken to North Memorial Medical Center with head and facial injuries. He was said to be in fair condition, but his family told WCCO that he’s expected to be OK, and could be released from the hospital soon.

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