The 25th America's Challenge distance race for gas balloons did not start in 2022 due to persistent bad weather in the Albuquerque area and in areas where the balloons would travel. The weather conditions made it impossible to conduct a safe, competitive race. We look forward to next year's America's Challenge -- and better weather.  

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The America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race is one of the world's two premier distance races for gas balloons. It is modeled after the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett, the world's oldest air race and the world championships for distance gas ballooning. The competition is simple. The team that travels the farthest distance wins.

America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race was founded by the Balloon Fiesta in 1995 through the vision and efforts of Mark Sullivan, former Balloon Fiesta president and recipient of the Montgolfier Diplome, one of ballooning's highest honors.  Sullivan saw the need for America to be identified with the world's most prestigious ballooning sport.  We are proud to provide a showcase in the United States to share the adventure and spectacle of gas ballooning.  

Amerca's Challenge Fun Facts

In the 28 years since the first America's Challenge in 1995, it has been held 25 times. For two years it was not held due to a "conflict" with the Gordon Bennett event. One of those years Gordon Bennett was held in Albuquerque and was the gas race instead of America's Challenge. The other year the two flight windows overlapped, making it impossible for teams to participate in both, which many do. In the third year, America's Challenge was not held due to the pandemic.

There are been 3 "No Starts" due to weather.

A total of 276 teams with participants from at least 12 countries have participated in 224 total flights.
2000 fielded the most teams: 25
2021 had just 4 (This was post-pandemic and travel was still an issue)
The average number of participating teams is 11.

Total distance flown by all teams: 237,095 km (147,269 mi)
Total duration of all flights: 7,556 hours (2 people = 15,000 hr)

Average distance 1,054 km (654 mi)
Average duration 34 hours

4 flights were more than 3000 km
10 flights were more than 2500 km
26 flights were more than 2000 km
69 flights more than 1500 km
104 flights more than 1000 km


5 countries have won America's Challenge

Total distance of the winning teams: 44,225 km (27,451 mi)
Total Duration of the winning teams: 1,218. 5 hours
Average distance of the winning team: 2,010.21 km (1247.77 mi)
Average duration of the winning flight: 55.39 hours


Distance 3670.76 km (2275.87 mi) 2017
Duration 71+ hours 2011

Multiple winners

5x Richard Abruzzo
4x Peter Cuneo & Barbara Fricke
3x Andy Cayton
2x David Levin & Alan Levin
2x Mark Sullivan & Cheri White