Search Continues For Gordon Bennett 2010 U.S. Balloonist Team


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Search Continues For Gordon Bennett 2010 U.S. Balloonist Team

By Bill Goldston   
October 3, 2010 - The Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) with support from other civil and military assets, including US and Croatian Military continues to search for the American balloonists, Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer-Davis, designated USA2, registration N801NM.

On Wednesday at about 05.58Z the Gordon Bennett Control Centre received the last signal from their tracking device, a device installed on their craft which normally gives balloon position every 15 minutes.

Brindisi Air Traffic Control meteorologist had a conversation with one of the pilots at 06.05Z. No contact has been established since. At the time thunderstorms were reported present in the area. Search teams continue to search for the missing Americans. Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) is using aircraft and fast patrol boats.
Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer-Davis   


The Croatian authorities and all ships in the area have also been notified. No signals have been detected from the Emergency Location Transmitter (ELT), which should have activated on impact with the ground or water or set off by the pilots. Both families have been informed that the Gordon Bennett 2010 Control Centre received recorded transponder readings from the air traffic control unit in the local area where the balloon had last been tracked. Transponder readings showed the height, time and location of a balloon in a coded form.

The Gordon Bennett 2010 Control Centre examined the transponder readings from Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer-Davis? balloon, registration N801NM, and calculated the change in height of the balloon over the time period recorded. The data show that the balloon had a moderate descent rate initially which then increased into a high rate of descent to about 50 MPH. It is the opinion of the Gordon Bennett 2010 Flight Control Team that the balloon appears to have suffered a sudden and unexpected failure.

Each balloon that entered into the race was provided with a GPS tracking device, which transmitted the position, altitude, speed and direction of each balloon back to race control. The trackers use the Inmarsat D+ tracking service, which allows short bursts of data to be sent from the balloon to the tracking providers. The U.S team balloon was also equipped with a satellite telephone, VHF radios, radar transponder and two mobile telephones as well survival suits, lifejackets and two single-person life rafts.


On Saturday September 25th at dust 20 teams and 20 balloons consisting of two pilots (pilot and co-pilot) and a retrieve crew, from 12 countries began the 54th International Gordon Bennett 2010 gas balloon race at near Bristol, England. The Gordon Bennett Cup is the world's oldest and most respected gas balloon race. The race concluded on October 2nd. The winners of the Gordon Bennett Cup have yet to be determined. The object to the race is to fly the furthest distance in a gas balloon on one filled tank of hydrogen. A distance measured in a straight line around the earth's surface from point of takeoff to the point of landing.


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