Missing Balloon Wreckage Found In Adriatic Sea

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Fishermen have found the wreckage of a balloon basket with the remains of missing U.S. balloon pilots Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer Davis, more than two months after they went missing while crossing the Adriatic Sea. An Italian trawler brought the basket up in a net while trawling, about 12 miles from shore and six miles from the balloon's last known location. The two pilots were competing in the Gordon Bennett international balloon race when contact was lost on September 29. Rough seas and thunderstorms were reported in the area at the time, and radar data showed the hydrogen balloon plummeting toward the sea at about 50 mph. The Italian Coast Guard searched for the team for six days.

News photos of the wreck of the wicker balloon basket show it is substantially intact despite the impact and two months at sea. A few holes in the exterior wicker structure can be seen, and piles of rope and fabric fill much of the interior. Initial reports were unclear whether the pilots were found dressed in flight suits or survival suits. Abruzzo, 47, of Albuquerque, was an accomplished balloonist who had won many races and awards in his career. He was the son of the late Ben Abruzzo, a crew member aboard the Double Eagle II, the first balloon to cross the Atlantic. Rymer Davis, 65, lived in Denver, where she worked as a radiologist. The two pilots won the Gordon Bennett race together in 2004.