June 9, 1930|
|Died||February 11, 1985
Albuquerque, New Mexico,
|Cause of death||Aircraft accident|
|Resting place||Gate of Heaven Cemetery Albuquerque, New Mexico|
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.
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. He was on the crew of the Double Eagle I in 1977. After five deaths in the early 1970s from attempts by others to cross the Atlantic, many believed the Double Eagle I would become the first balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, Abruzzo suffered exposure and frostbite while over Iceland and was forced to abandon the attempt.
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.
Abruzzo died in 1985 when his Cessna 421 crashed near Albuquerque. His name lives on in the new Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum in Albuquerque.
His son, Richard Abruzzo, was also a noted balloonist, Richard disappeared with the balloon that he and Carol Rymer Davis were piloting in the 2010 The Gordon Bennett Cup race. On 29 September 2010 they disappeared. On 1 October 2010 the event organisers reported that the pilots were likely to be dead following an analysis of transponder data from the balloon which showed a high rate of descent prior to impact with the sea. On 6 December 2010 they were found dead off the coast of Italy.
- Richard Melzer. Buried Treasures Famous and Unusual Gravesites in New Mexico History.
- "Ben L. Abruzzo (American balloonist) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
- Barry, Keith. "Ben Abruzzo | This Day In Tech". Wired.com. Archived from the original on 29 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
- "History of Gas Ballooning". Balloonfiesta.com. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
- "Famous people who died in aviation accidents". Planecrashinfo.com. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
- "Inquiry into missing gas balloonists expected", BBC, 2 October 2010
- "Bodies of Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer Davis Found in Adriatic Sea", SKY, 6 December 2010