« America's Challenge - update #4 | Main | America's Challenge - update #6 »

11 October 2006

America's Challenge - update #5

After days of blustery, raining conditions, on a gorgeous clear night in Albuquerque, the America’s Challenge distance race for gas balloons is finally off and flying. At this writing, the competitors have already cleared the Sandia Mountains east of the city and are headed eastward across New Mexico.

The launch was delayed three days because of a stubborn weather system, and this evening was delayed yet again -- by two hours -- because of strong winds on the launch site that persisted later than expected. But at sunset the winds quit and spectators were treated to a beautiful southwestern sunset as the balloons completed launch preparations. At 8:30 PM MDT (0230Z), the first competing balloon soared skywards, piloted by David Levin and Ron Martin. The 13 balloons were launched without incident in about 40 minutes, cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd.

Last year’s champions Janet Folkes of the UK and Bill Arras of the USA have some stiff competition as they try to defend their title. Five-time winner Richard Abruzzo is back in the America’s Challenge this year after a disastrous flight in the 2005 Gordon Bennett (held simultaneously with the 2005 America’s Challenge). He is flying with Carol Rymer Davis, the co-pilot in his 2004 Gordon Bennett win. Other former winners in the field include Levin, Peter Cuneo and Barbara Fricke. The rest of the field is loaded with talent, and it’s truly anybody’s race.

The balloons are expected to head east across the southern United States. It will most probably be a fast trip. Weather data presented to the pilots at today’s preflight briefing suggests competitors could reach the coast in the Carolinas, Georgia, or Florida in about 48 hours.

We’ll provide regular updates as the race progresses and, of course, you can follow the competitors’ progress across the country live on our tracking page, http://www.balloonfiesta.com/Gas/tracking/index.php.

Posted by Luc at 6:53 AM

Email story to a friend

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):


March 2009
January 2009
September 2008
July 2008
March 2008
January 2008
December 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
June 2006
April 2006
March 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003

Last messages

Lighter than air
Gas balloon contest on WAG is cancelled
Men with a mission
Helma Sjuts deceased
Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett 2008 - the teams
GB 2009 in Geneva
World Record Balloon Flight
GB 2008 in Albuquerque
America's Challenge - update #2
America's Challenge - update #1


Gasballoon Map


Official Gordon Bennett Pages


Belgian Balloon Pages