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Balloonists Shot at From Ground

October 13, 2010 — One of the balloons competing in last week’s America’s Challenge gas balloon race was fired upon from the ground when flying north of Lubbock, Texas, according to a report on KOB-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Troy Bradley and co-pilot Shane Robinson were among six teams that lifted off Saturday from Albuquerque and were floating about 400 feet AGL around sunset when someone started shooting at the balloon, the report stated. Robinson grabbed binoculars and spotted a pickup truck with three people and a gun pointed at them.

Another shot rang out and Bradley told KOB they could see the flash from the barrel, so they ascended out of range and called 911 from a cell phone. After several attempts, they got through to the Swisher County Sheriff’s Department and guided deputies to the suspects, who were hiding in the cornfield. The balloon was not hit and landed safely. The suspects were apprehended.

Barbara Fricke and Peter Cuneo of Albuquerque won the race after touching down on the east shore of the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario, 1,350 miles from the starting point, after being aloft for 57 hours, 30 minutes. The 2010 race was dedicated to Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer-Davis, the American balloonists who are presumed dead after their craft vanished over the Adriatic Sea during September’s Gordon Bennett Race in Europe.

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