September 29th, 2010
06:15 PM ET

American balloonists missing during race over Europe

Two Americans competing in an international gas-balloon race were reported missing Tuesday morning, hours after their balloon crossed Italy and went over the Adriatic Sea.

Race officials said they lost contact with the balloon of Richard Abruzzo of New Mexico and Dr. Carol Rymer Davis of Colorado, competing in the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett, as it was over the sea shortly after 8 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET).

Severe thunderstorms were in the vicinity of the balloon – which launched from the United Kingdom on Saturday - when race officials received the last signal from the balloon’s tracker device, race flight director Don Cameron said in a written statement.

Italian maritime authorities were conducting a search, and Croatian authorities and all ships in the area also were notified of the missing balloon pilots, Cameron said.

The balloon was equipped with a satellite phone, VHF radios, a radar transponder and two mobile phones, but efforts to contact Abruzzo and Rymer Davis were unsuccessful Tuesday, Cameron said.

The balloon also had survival suits, lifejackets and two single-person life rafts, according to Cameron.

"We are hoping that good news will come but are becoming increasingly concerned as nightfall approaches," Cameron said. "We are in close contact with Richard and Carol's families."

The 20-balloon race began Saturday night near Bristol, England, with pilots vying to fly the farthest from the start point. The balloons flew over the English Channel and continued south across France, and most of the balloons ended up landing in France or northern Spain.

But six, including the one piloted by Abruzzo and Rymer Davis, ventured over the Mediterranean. Five of them landed in various European countries Tuesday and Wednesday. The one that flew the farthest - piloted by a Swiss team - landed in eastern Romania on the edge of the Black Sea, more than 2,400 kilometers from Bristol.

Rymer Davis is a radiologist in Denver, Colorado, according to KUSA. She and Abruzzo won the 2004 Gordon Bennett race, which took off that year from France.

Post by:
Filed under: Colorado • Italy • New Mexico • United Kingdom
soundoff (136 Responses)
  1. RBIE

    If a balloon falls out of the sky and crashes and no ones there does it make a sound???

    September 30, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. Ffej

    If they did pass, they did it doing what hey loved doing!

    October 1, 2010 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. Joeythes

    Amazing adventurers who well knew the risks they were taking. But if either of them are a parent, then their foolishness and sheer selfishness knows no bounds and I won't feel sorry for them. For their spouses and children who pay for their actions, yes, but them – no. Duty first and foremost above all is towards one's children and spouse.

    October 1, 2010 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |

    I grew up and went to school with the Abruzzo kids. They were nice folks and have endured some terrible losses.

    I hope they are safe and my heart goes out to their family. I am sure most people who grew up with hot air ballooning in New Mexico in the 70's and 80's feel the same.

    October 2, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7