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America's Challenge

The America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race was founded by the Balloon Fiesta in 1995 due to the vision and efforts of Mark Sullivan, former Balloon Fiesta President and recipient of the Montgolfier Diplome (one of ballooning's highest honors), who saw the need for America to be identified with the world's most prestigious ballooning sport.

The America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race is modeled after the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett, but  it differs from the older event in allowing balloons from all countries, without limits on the number of entries from each.   The team that travels the longest distance wins.

Have Questions about the America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race? We have a FAQ page with the most common Questions and Answers, click here!

2016 America's Challenge

Gas Balloon News & updates

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Oct 27, 2016

Update 11 AM MDT (1700 UTC) October 27, 2016

In a race which may have set a new standard for directional diversity, patience paid off as Albuquerque's Peter Cuneo and Barbara Fricke outlasted the field to win their fourth America's Challenge distance race for gas balloons.

Oct 9, 2016
Update 0745 MDT Sunday, October 9, 2016 (1345 UTC)
The Command Center reports that Peter Cuneo and Barbara Fricke of Albuquerque, the last team aloft, has landed near Monroe City, Missouri, about 20 miles west of Hannibal, MO, as the apparent winners of the 21st Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta America's Challenge distance race for gas balloons. All results are provisional until the teams complete their debriefing with Scoring Officer Jim Byrd and their tracking data is confirmed.
Oct 9, 2016
Update 0545 MDT Sunday, October 9, 2016 (1145 UTC)
The new leaders of the America's Challenge distance race for gas balloons are in Missouri, headed into daylight and toward the Mississippi River.
Oct 8, 2016
Update 1815 MDT Saturday, October 8, 2016 (0005 UTC Sunday, October 9)
Darkness is approaching in the American Midwest and in Texas, the locations of the final two balloons in the 21st America's Challenge distance race for gas balloons.
Oct 8, 2016
Update 1020 MDT Saturday, October 8, 2016 (1620 UTC)
The America's Challenge Command Center reports that Team 2, the USA's Bert Padelt and Noah Forden, have made a safe landing south of Dodge City, KS after a flight of approximately 689 km (428 miles). They actually sent the Command Center a little video showing their landing site in a nice open field. That means that two teams – one from Albuquerque and one from Eastern Europe – will duke it out for top honors in the 21st annual distance race for gas balloons.

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Balloon Fiesta Park

(For GPS planning only)
5000 Balloon Fiesta Pkwy NE

Mailing address

4401 Alameda NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113


Local: (505) 821-1000