Sunday, October 3, 2010
My heart goes out to his wife and their two young children, waiting in Italy for traces of him and his balloon to be found. In my life there have been too many aircraft and people falling out of the sky. I've seen the craters left in the souls of those left standing on solid ground.
Abruzzo's life, and that of his father before him, was focused on ballooning. He knew the risks, and that most likely was part of the allure of the sport. Did his wife sign on for sharing that risk? Did his children? Will they understand that Daddy loved the sport enough to risk going away from them?
When does risk-taking become foolhardy? In the balloon race, many competitors landed their balloons because of bad weather. The Abruzzo team decided to continue. One of the last transmissions from Richard was, "I am in a thunderstorm; the situation is not easy. We are headed for coast but not in danger." According to the Albuquerque Journal, minutes later he said, "Descending upon, descended, descending rapidly upon the sea." Reports are that the balloon descended at a rate of 50 miles per hour.
We need to take risks to feel alive. According to some, if you haven't had a little shiver of fear each day, you aren't living hard enough. But how much risk is enough? When does that shiver of fear turn into a drive for the adrenaline fix? What does it take to feel alive?