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Encyclopedia > Ben Abruzzo

Benjamin L. Abruzzo (b. June 9, 1930 at Rockford, Illinois, d. February 11, 1985 at Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Ben Abruzzo was an American hot air balloonist and businessman. He helped place Albuquerque on the map as the balloon capital of the world.

Abruzzo was born in Rockford, Illinois. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1952 then entered the United States Air Force. After graduation, Abruzzo was stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. He would adopt New Mexico as his home state after leaving military service in 1954.

Abruzzo took an interest in hot air ballooning. He was on the crew of the Double Eagle I in 1977. After the five deaths in the early 1970s, many believed the Dougle Eagle I would become the first balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, Abruzzo suffered exposure and Iceland and was forced to abandon the attempt.

The team, this time with Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman, made a second attempt in the Double Eagle II in 1978. The team took off from Presque Isle, Maine on August 11 and made a successful landing in Misery, France six days later. For their efforts, the team was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1979.

Abruzzo was also on the Double Eagle V team. The Double Eagle V was the first team to cross the Pacific Ocean in a hot air balloon in November 1981. This flight also set a record for longest trip by a team in a balloon breaking.

Unfortunately, Abruzzo died a few years later when his private plane crashed near Albuquerque. His name lives on in the new Anderson-Abruzzo International Ballooning Museum that is under construction in Albuquerque. His son, Richard, is also a noted balloonist who continues to fly today.

  Results from FactBites:
Ben Abruzzo (277 words)
After graduation, Abruzzo was stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.
Unfortunately, Abruzzo suffered Exposure and Frostbite while over Iceland and was forced to abandon the attempt.
Abruzzo was also on the Double Eagle V team.
Welcome to CongressionalGoldMedal.com: Double Eagle II (2288 words)
Maxie Anderson and Ben Abruzzo had tried in September, 1977 to be the first to cross the Atlantic but were unsuccessful when their 101,000 cubic foot helium balloon, designed by Ed Yost, had to be ditched after 65 hours and 30 minutes north of Reykjavik in Iceland.
With Ben Abruzzo suffering from exposure and frostbite, Double Eagle had to be ditched three miles off the coast of Iceland on September 12, 1977.
Abruzzo and Anderson made the decision to go and their balloon began to leave the ground at 8:16 PM.
  More results at FactBites »



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