Thunderstorm Activity Appears To Have Contributed To Tragedy
Mother Nature can be horribly unforgiving... especially for those flying craft that require some semblance of gentility on her part.
What should have been an enjoyable day of ballooning and skydiving has turned out quite poorly as weather conditions appear to have played a part in the downing of the balloonist.
A second full day of searching on Sunday has failed to turn up any sign of missing balloonist, Ed Ristiano. The 63 year old pilot from Cornelius, North Carolina, was flying Skydivers near Fitzgerald, Georgia, as part of the annual Wild Chicken Festival. Ristiano and 6 skydivers were caught by a sudden thunderstorm.
The 6 skydivers jumped and landed safely but Ristiano's balloons was collapsed by the storm and disappeared. The area of southern Georgia is heavily wooded and that has complicated search efforts. Several veteran balloonists have joined the search but hope is fading for their comrade.