Ben Abruzzo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ben Abruzzo
Born Ben Abruzzo
(1930-06-09)June 9, 1930
Rockford, Illinois,
United States
Died February 11, 1985(1985-02-11) (aged 54)
Albuquerque, New Mexico,
United States
Cause of death
Aircraft accident
Resting place
Gate of Heaven Cemetery Albuquerque, New Mexico[1]
Nationality Italian
Education University of Illinios
Occupation balloonist
Known for Hot air balloonist
Home town Rockford, IL
Spouse(s) Patty Abruzzo

Benjamin L. Abruzzo (June 9, 1930 – February 11, 1985) was an American hot air balloonist and businessman. He helped increase the reputation of Albuquerque as a center of lighter-than-air and hot-air ballooning.[2]

Biography[edit]

Abruzzo was born in Rockford, Illinois. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1952, and then entered the United States Air Force. After graduation, Abruzzo was stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. He would adopt New Mexico as his home state after leaving military service in 1954.

Abruzzo took an interest in hot air ballooning in the early 1970s. Through the efforts of Abruzzo and other Albuquerque balloon pilots the first Albuquerque balloon fiesta was held in 1972, with just thirteen balloons launching from a shopping mall parking lot. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is now the largest event of its kind in the world, with over 600 balloons participating each October.[3] In 1977 Abruzzo and fellow balloonist Maxie Anderson decided to attempt a crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in a helium filled gas balloon named the Double Eagle I. The balloon was named in honor of Charles Lindbergh, who in 1927 was the first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a small single engined aircraft alone. The flight of the Double Eagle I occurred fifty years after Lindbergh's feat, and was the eleventh recorded attempt to make the crossing, which had been an open challenge in ballooning for more than a century. The balloon launched from Marshfield, Massachusetts on September 9. After being blown off course by stormy weather, the team was forced to ditch three miles off the coast of Iceland on September 12, 65½ hours after taking off.[2] Abruzzo suffered exposure and frostbite during the flight and was forced to abandon the attempt.[4]

The team, this time with Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman, made a second attempt in the Double Eagle II in 1978. The team took off from Presque Isle, Maine on August 11 and made a successful landing in Miserey, France six days later. For their efforts, the team was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1979.

Abruzzo was also on the Double Eagle V team. The Double Eagle V was the first team to cross the Pacific Ocean in a gas balloon in November 1981. This flight also set a record for longest trip by a team in a balloon.[5]

Abruzzo died on 11 February 1985 when the Cessna 421 he was piloting crashed near Albuquerque.[6] Abruzzo's wife and four others were also lost in the crash. His name lives on in the new Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum in Albuquerque.

Family[edit]

His son, Richard Abruzzo, was also a noted balloonist. On 29 September 2010 while participating in The Gordon Bennett Cup (or Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett), which is the world's oldest gas balloon race, Richard and co-pilot and Carol Rymer Davis disappeared over the Adriatic Sea during intense thunderstorms in the path of the balloonists. On 1 October 2010, the event organisers reported that the pilots were likely to be lost following an analysis of transponder data from the balloon which showed a high rate of descent prior to impact with the sea.[7] On 6 December 2010 wreckage containing the bodies of Richard and Carol were discovered by a fishing trawler off the coast of Italy.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Richard Melzer. Buried Treasures Famous and Unusual Gravesites in New Mexico History. 
  2. ^ "Ben L. Abruzzo (American balloonist) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  3. ^ "History of Gas Ballooning". Balloonfiesta.com. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  4. ^ Barry, Keith. "Ben Abruzzo | This Day In Tech". Wired.com. Archived from the original on 29 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  5. ^ "History of Gas Ballooning". Balloonfiesta.com. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  6. ^ "Famous people who died in aviation accidents". Planecrashinfo.com. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  7. ^ "Inquiry into missing gas balloonists expected", BBC, 2 October 2010
  8. ^ "Bodies of Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer Davis Found in Adriatic Sea", SKY, 6 December 2010