US Balloonists Vanish During Cross-Europe Race

Coast guards searching Adriatic Sea for missing pair
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2010 2:23 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Italian and Croatian coast guards are searching the Adriatic Sea for a pair of American balloonists who vanished during the world's premier—and most dangerous—balloon race. Richard Abruzzo of New Mexico and Coloradan Carol Davis were last detected yesterday morning piloting their craft over the sea in rough weather, AP reports. The pair were taking part in the Gordon Bennett Cup, in which teams compete to see who can fly the furthest from a set point.

Abruzzo and Davis were four days into the race when they were last detected. The balloon is equipped with a satellite telephone, VHF radios, radar transponder and two mobile phones but efforts to contact the pair have been unsuccessful, the race's director says. Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson—who has flown with Abruzzo several times and loaned him his high-altitude suit for the race—says he's very concerned about the pair, but added that they are both "very capable people of dealing with this situation."

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