Updated: Tuesday, 30 Nov 2010, 6:36 PM MST
Published : Tuesday, 30 Nov 2010, 6:36 PM MST
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Missing Albuquerque balloonist Richard Abruzzo will be remember Wednesday morning with a tree planted in his memory at the city's balloon museum.
In September, Abruzzo and co-pilot Carol Rymer Davis vanished in stormy weather over the Adriatic Sea while competing in the Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race. An extensive search failed to find any trace of them or their craft.
A short time later, a bedtime story inspired Abruzzo's children to plant a tree in his memory. After some careful thought all agreed the Italian stone pine was the perfect choice:
"It's an evergreen tree," arborist Stan Schug, associate curator of the Albuquerque BioPark, said. "It's very distinctive-looking when it's mature.
"They grow naturally in the Adriatic area, and the family, Abruzzo, being Italian, it all just fit together."
Italian stone pines can grow to 80 feet tall, and as they grow, their canopies fan out to look a bit like a balloon.
The tree will be outside the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum . The museum is name for Abruzzo's father, Ben Abruzzo, and Maxie Anderson, both of whom helped pilot the first trans-Atlantic balloon flight.