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12 November 2005

How to cross the USA within two days.

Bepperl Hoehl from Munich and Stefan Handl of our Frankenballon Club have been qualified for the 49th Gordon Bennett Race and were launched into the skies of Albuquerque on the 1st of October. Sabrina Handl, Bernhard and Christine Mohr were deeply touched by the sound of the National anthem.

We, the chase-crew, decided to stay in our own beds for one more night, as we thought the wind would not take our balloon D-OFVA too far away so fast. A very good decision, but we should have got up earlier! Every hour the wind increased more and more, partially the balloons flew a speed of nearly 100 km/h. So we three drove 30 hours (just one hour rest and sleep for all of us) nearly 3000 km across the United States, from New Mexico to Crystal Falls, Michigan, near the Canadian border. Because of the bad cell phone net throughout the states, we just knew the approx place where our pilots had a save landing.

USA in 2 days

Overwhelming was the help and the kindness of the County Sheriffs and the District Police, who drove with their Quads and their Jeeps through the wilderness and were excited to bring back our pilots Bepperl and Stefan, as well as the German-American team of the America’s Challenge, Anja Kuemmerlein and Phil McNutt, to celebrate afterwards the more or less happy landings.

USA in 2 days

The next day the Sheriffs gave their free time to rescue the American balloon out of the trees and the wilderness. That was really difficult due to heavy rainfall.

After a warm shower we started as a mini convoy consisting of two cars, two balloons and nine exhausted balloonists’ our journey back home. Again to drive 3000 km, over two time zones, across seven states. It took much longer getting home than chasing the balloon. But everyone arrived in Albuquerque save without an accident or a breakdown.

USA in 2 days

The good result of Bepperl and Stefan, 1959,1 km within nearly 40 hours and the 6th place of fourteen was, beside of all strains and adventures of them and the crew, a great reward for us.

Congratulations to both of them, as well as to the winners Bob Berben and Benoît Simeons, Belgium, who set with incredible 3400 km a new distance record; the 2nd place winners Wilhelm Eimers and Ulrich Seel, Germany and the 3rd placed Christian Stoll und Walter Mattenberger, Switzerland.

We wish Richard Abruzzo all the best for his recovery.

Christine Mohr

Posted by Luc at 11:33 AM

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