Abruzzo, Ben L.


Abruzzo, Ben L.

▪ American balloonist
born June 9, 1930, Rockford, Ill., U.S.
died Feb. 11, 1985, Albuquerque, N.M.

      American balloonist who, with three crew mates, made the first transpacific balloon flight and the longest nonstop balloon flight, in the Double Eagle V.

      Abruzzo graduated from the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) in 1952 and served two years in the U.S. Air Force at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M. (1952–54). He settled in Albuquerque and became a real-estate developer. He, as well as his wife and children, became active in skiing, boating, sailing, tennis, flying, and ballooning. In 1978 Abruzzo, with Maxie Anderson (Anderson, Maxie) (q.v.) and Larry Newman, made the first transatlantic balloon flight in the Double Eagle II. In 1979 Abruzzo and Anderson won the Gordon Bennett race in the Double Eagle III.

      The transpacific flight, with Abruzzo as captain and teammates Larry Newman and Ron Clark, both of Albuquerque, and Rocky Aoki, a Japanese-American restaurateur from Miami, who partly financed the flight, was launched from Nagashima, Japan, on Nov. 9, 1981. The balloon landed, 84 hr 31 min later, in the Mendocino National Forest in California on November 12. The flight covered 5,768 miles (9,244 km), the longest balloon flight in history.

      Abruzzo, who died in a plane crash, held nine world balloon records, more than any other balloonist.

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Universalium. 2010.

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