18 balloons from 4 nations set to compete
The Ninth Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race is set to launch at approximately 7:00 PM MDT (0100Z). Inflation of the balloons should begin around 3 PM.
A distinguished field of 18 international teams will try to fly the longest distance from Balloon Fiesta Park. Previous America's Challenge winners have flown in excess of 1,100 miles and stayed in the air as long as 67 hours.
The long-range weather prognosis for the race is very good, and the teams are expected to head east across the United States. Balloon Fiesta meteorologists John Ground and Randy Lefevre say that some mild convective activity around the mountains in the Albuquerque area should dissipate in time for a Saturday evening launch.