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.
The Polish team of Zapart and Dawidziuk's last reported position is southeast of San Antonio, TX. They've led the race since the beginning, and have traveled 1,080 km (681 miles). The team (Team 1) contacted the Command Center shortly after 3 PM to report their landing plans. The Command Center will post their official landing position as soon as it is available.
Meanwhile, the hometown team of Peter Cuneo and Barbara Fricke (Team 5) continues to ever-so-slowly overtake the Polish team. At this writing they're about 35 miles (56 km) behind the leaders, just east of Manhattan, Kansas, heading north-northeastward. The Command Center is manually updating their team's current position in close to real time. The speed reporting of the equipment is not currently reporting; however, the team is in contact with the Command Center enabling us to provide current position updates.
This may be one of the most interesting America's Challenges ever in terms of the many different tracks the participating teams chose in their quest to travel the greatest distance. Upon reaching east Texas, Team 1 found a course that took them almost directly south. Team 5, flying across Kansas, turned almost straight north. And this is the first time anyone in the Command Center can remember a team actually heading west and landing in Arizona, as did the French entre of Pelard and Lajoye. They landed yesterday on the Navajo (Diné) reservation and are touched by the very warm welcome they received, including an invitation to join a local family ceremony and meal, a great honor in Native American culture.
As the race continues through what is likely to be its final night, we'll keep you posted via our tracking site on the Balloon Fiesta website, www.balloonfiesta.com, or the Balloon Fiesta app on your favorite mobile device.