Maxie Anderson

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Maxie Anderson
Maxie Anderson.jpg
Maxie Anderson, 1981
Born Max Leroy Anderson
September 10, 1934
Sayre, Oklahoma
Died June 27, 1983(1983-06-27) (aged 48)
Bad Brückenau, West Germany
Cause of death Balloon crash
Nationality American
Occupation Balloonist, businessman
Spouse(s) Patty Anderson
Children 4

Max Leroy "Maxie" Anderson (September 10, 1934 – June 27, 1983) was an American hot air balloonist and businessman. Along with Ben Abruzzo, his frequent ballooning partner, he helped Albuquerque become known as the balloon capital of the world.[1] He was responsible for the first nonstop balloon crossing of the Atlantic Ocean and of the United States.


Anderson was born in Sayre, Oklahoma to rancher and mining industry executive Carl Anderson, who died at the age of 90 in 2001. He entered the Missouri Military Academy at the age of eight, and throughout his school years assisted his father in building pipelines. He engaged in prospecting in the Arctic Circle before completing his degree in Industrial Engineering at the University of North Dakota in 1956. He developed an early interest in flight, obtaining a pilot’s license at the age of fifteen (having misrepresented his age). This allowed him to fly a plane to the academy at age 15, while cars were banned except for those aged 18. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, he entered the mining industry, acquiring his own company, Ranchers Exploration and Development Corporation, before he was thirty. His career was marked by innovations in extraction technologies, delivery systems, and administrative practices. For his work in the field, he was inducted into National Mining Hall of Fame.[2]


Along with his friend Ben Abruzzo, he became interested in hot air ballooning. The two decided to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s flight, and engaged balloonist Ed Yost (whose transatlantic bid had failed in 1958) to build the Double Eagle. The balloon was launched near Marshfield, Massachusetts on September 9, 1977, but the flight was aborted off the coast of Iceland on September 13. In 1978 Larry Newman, a manufacturer of hang gliders, was added to the crew for the next attempt in the Double Eagle II. This venture was launched August 11 at Presque Isle, Maine, and arrived at Miserey, France, on August 17. For their efforts, the team was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1979. It was both a distance record (3108 miles) and a duration record (137 hours) for the sport.

With his son Kristian, Anderson made the first non-stop trans-North American balloon flight. The Kitty Hawk departed Fort Baker, California May 8, 1980, and landed on May 12 at Sainte-Félicité, Quebec.[3]

Anderson next decided to complete a circumnavigation of the globe. With Don Ida he launched the balloon Jules Verne from Luxor, Egypt on January 11, 1981, travelling 4,316 kilometres (2,682 mi), and landing in Hansa, India 48 hours later.[4][5]

Death and legacy[edit]

Anderson was killed on June 27, 1983, near Bad Brückenau, West Germany. He was in the air with co-pilot Don Ida. Having no wish to stray across the border into East Germany or Czechoslovakia, Anderson attempted to release the gondola from the envelope at touchdown. The bolts failed to fire, and a gust re-lofted the vehicle, whereupon the explosive bolts deployed, and both Anderson and Ida were killed in the fall.[6][7] The locale of the accident is also given as “near the village of Schönderling in the county of Bad Kissingen[8] in a history of the Gordon Bennett Cup balloon race, in which they were participating as non-competitors at the time.

With his wife Patty, Anderson founded the Anderson Valley Vineyards in 1973. “We have a lot of balloon-themed wines and items," wine expert Angela Le Quieu says. She adds that the label for the winery's Balloon Blush wine always uses a picture from the previous year's Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.[9] His name lives on in the new Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum[1] in Albuquerque, and in the Maxie Anderson Award, for an Albuquerque “business owner who has demonstrated excellence in business success; reputation; community involvement and leadership; and humanity and humor.”[10]


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