ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Nancy Abruzzo arrived in Italy Thursday to be near the search for her husband and his co-pilot who vanished two days ago during an international balloon race.
Richard Abruzzo of Albuquerque and Carol Rymer Davis of Denver were competing in the Gordon Bennett 2010 gas-balloon race and had launched Saturday from near Bristol, England. They were over the Adriatic Sea east of the Italian coast when they last made contact with the race control center just before midnight Tuesday night New Mexico time.
The pair won the event in 2004.
"Please let everyone know how much I, my kids and our family appreciate all the love and support we have received for Richard and Carol," Nancy Abruzzo said in a statement sent to KRQE News 13. "The State Department, US military, Italian government, military and people and our own Governor Richardson, Senator Bingaman and so many others are doing all possible to get Richard and Carol back to us as soon and safely as they can.
"Please ask everyone to keep up their spirits and support as we work on getting them safely home."
Abruzzo said she was headed to Bari, a port city about 200 miles southeast of Rome, where the Italian Coast Guard has based its sea, land and air search for the balloonists.
Latest statement from race headquarters, 2 p.m. MDT:
News Announcement 16.00 BST, Gordon Bennett Control Centre
Submitted by Jo Slade on Thu, 2010/09/30 - 14:52 UTC
The search and rescue operation continues for Gordon Bennett Race pilots Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer-Davis, Team USA2, balloon registration N801NM. The pilots are American citizens.
The Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) have been very proactive in their search using one aircraft, four boats and one helicopter to search sea and coastal areas.
The Italian MRCC has been extremely thorough in their operations, but unfortunately all items found have not been related to the search.
The MRCC have the support of the Croatian and Greek Search and Rescue authorities.
We are grateful to the US Consulate in Naples who has designated assets to the search operation.
Immediate and extended family of both pilots politely request that the press do not make contact with them. They do, however, appreciate the efforts of all who are raising the profile of the incident which is helping the search to gain momentum.
Both families are most grateful to all who have sent their good wishes and messages of support, and apologise that they will not be able to reply individually.
When information is available it will be posted on the www.gordonbennett2010.com site. The next planned statement will be after 9am on Friday 1st October.
Flight Director, 54th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett
The director of the Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race said there is no way missing pilot Richard Abruzzo and co-pilot Carol Rymer Davis are still in the air.
Abruzzo and Davis were participating in the race when they lost contact with race control in England around midnight Mountain Time on Tuesday.
Gordon Bennett Race Director Don Cameron said the pair of missing balloonist are probably on the ground in a remote area. Still, Croatian rescue teams joined the expanded search of the Adriatic Sea.
Originally officials feared that Abruzzo and Rymer Davis landed in the water. Thunderstorms were detected in the area where the authorities suspect the balloonists went down.
The last time anyone saw Abruzzo and Davis was Saturday morning when their balloon took off for competition from the English coast on Saturday morning. Their balloon drifted over France and Italy before floating into heavy thunderstorms over the Adriatic Sea. Their GPS signal was lost 13 miles off of Italy's coast on Wednesday morning.
Abruzzo and Davis won the Gordon Bennett race in 2004. They were the first American winners in five years. Members of the balloon community in Albuquerque held balloon-light vigil for Abruzzo and Davis at sunset on Wednesday.
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson was scheduled to fly with Abruzzo in the America's Challenge gas-balloon race at the 2010 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The Fiesta begins Saturday and runs through Oct. 10.
Statement from Gordon Bennett 2010 Race Control at 19:00 GMT (1 p.m. MDT):
PRESS RELEASE WEDNESDAY 29TH SEPTEMBER 2010
News Announcement 19.00 GMT, Gordon Bennett Control Centre
The balloon flying in the Gordon Bennett race designated USA2, registration
N801NM is still missing as night falls. The pilots are American citizens,
Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer-Davis.
At 05.58Z this morning (29th September) we received the last signal from the
tracker device, which normally gives us the balloon position every 15
minutes. This position is shown on the web site www.gordonbennett2010.com .
We were contacted around that time also by Brindisi Air Traffic Control who
had lost contact with the balloon. Mr. Luc Trullemans, meteorologist, has
had a conversation with one of the pilots at 06.05Z.
No contact has been
The balloon is equipped with satellite telephone, VHF
radios, radar transponder and two mobile telephones. It has not been
possible to make contact on any of these. Thunderstorms were present in the
A search and rescue operation has been launched by the Italian Maritime
Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) involving several aircraft and a fast
patrol boat. The Croatian authorities and all shipping in the area have also
been notified. Nothing has been found so far and no signal has been detected
from the Emergency Location Transmitter, which should activate on contact
We have been able to supply the MRCC with some information on
the safety equipment carried and technical aspects of the balloon. The
balloon is equipped with survival suits, lifejackets and two single-person
Nineteen other balloons were flying in the event and we have confirmation
that all of these have landed safely and all other pilots are safe and well.
We are hoping that good news will come, but are becoming increasingly
concerned as nightfall approaches. We are in close contact with Richard and
The search will be scaled down overnight, but will be resumed at first
light. There will be no further bulletins until the search resumes tomorrow.
54th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett
-- ENDS --
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