Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer Davis went missing after starting the Gordon Bennett Cup balloon race. The pair has been out of communication since Wednesday, Sept. 29, and ground crews are worried. The support teams say that the missing racers could be adrift on the Adriatic Sea in a life raft, or could have perished in an explosion.
Reports indicate that the gas balloonists’ craft could have been struck by lightning because of thunderstorms, so an explosion is not impossible. Rob Bayly, a ground crew member, said the adventurers possibly ejected from the balloon, thinking it would crash and sink, but then the balloon might have lifted off again.
The Abruzzo-Rymer Davis team is extremely experienced in ballooning and have competed in the sport for many years. Everyone familiar with the missing team is continuing to hope for the best while rescue efforts proceed.
How many other incidents like this have plagued sports teams or competing individuals? When people engage in extreme sports, can experience help them survive dangerous situations?
Tamsin Causer was a champion skydiver who had nine years of experience, attained four world records, and had jumped over 500 times. During one jump, Causer collided with another jumper in freefall and, because of this event, Causer ended up drowning. This accident was not something Causer could have ever predicted, but the risks are always present.
Recently in Oahu, HI, a man was piloting a hang glider above the Sea Life Park, launching from a location known as Lower Cactus. The unnamed man evidently experienced unexpected conditions and ended up crashing into the mountainside. Reports are unclear as to how long he was on the side of the mountain before he was rescued. Some two-speed flyers, a form of para-glider, were hiking up to the summit when they found the man at the crash site. The man should survive, mainly because of the two hikers as he was not visible from the roadway below.
In Vancouver, BC, 13 passengers became engulfed in flames as their hot air balloon erupted. Many families were watching in horror as some of the passengers leaped from the gondola just before the balloon launched. Three passengers did not evacuate the gondola before it went into the air, and one of the people jumped at over two stories high. A mother and daughter did not jump and perished.
Considering the dangerous nature of many sports in which people engage, obtaining proper training, experience, planning, and preparation may make an event safer and subsequently more fun. But tempting fate too often just increases the risk and probability that a terrible problem may arise. Even if you are not experienced and are under the guidance of professionals, dangerous activities may turn fatal.
Hopefully the Abruzzo and Rymer Davis ballooning team will be found healthy and ready to plan another adventure.
AP. (2007). Witnesses recount horror of balloon fire, crash. Msnbc.msn.com
BBC. (2010). Lightning may have struck missing balloonists’ craft. Bbc.co.uk
Magxzine. (2006). Skydiving Accidents Prove Fatal in Several Instances. magxzine.com
Sakahara, T. (2010). Hang glider pilot injured after crashing into Oahu mountainside. Hawaiinewsnow.com