(Reuters) - A worker for a hot air balloon company was carried aloft holding onto the aircraft's basket and fell to his death in New York state, police said on Saturday.

Ryan Almeter, 34, of Bliss, New York, was helping passengers in the town of Nunda to climb out of the hot air balloon's basket by holding it down on Friday when a gust of wind caught the craft, sending it and Almeter into the air, state trooper Mark O'Donnell said in a phone interview.

It was not immediately clear why Almeter did not let go soon after the balloon started ascending, but he may have been trying to climb into the basket, O'Donnell said.

He let go when the balloon was about 100 feet high and fell to the ground, New York State Police said in a statement.

Almeter, a worker for a local hot air balloon company, was pronounced dead at the scene in Nunda, which is about 50 miles southeast of Buffalo, O'Donnell said.

An investigation into the death continues and police said they have contacted the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board about the incident.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)