2022 America's Challenge Celebrates Silver Anniversary
Weather permitting, at 6 PM on Saturday, October 1, a distinguished field of gas balloonists will soar aloft from Balloon Fiesta Park on flights to destiations unknown. Their objective: to fly further than their competitors and win one of the world's premier ballooning competitions. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta's America's Challenge distance race for gas balloons was founded in 1995, and this year celebrates its 25th year.
The pilots competing this year include the newly-crowned world distance gas ballooning champions, Wilhelm Eimers and Benni Eimers, from Germany. The father-son team -- the first ever to win the world title -- were victorious in the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett the world's oldest air race. Willi Eimers has won the Gordon Bennett five times, putting him among the greatest champions in gas ballooning history. But he has never won the America's Challenge.
Eimers will fly this year's America's Challenge with his son Sebastian, while Benni will compete as co-pilot with Swiss pilot Balthasar Wicki, an America's Challenge rookie. Also representing Germany is another first-time team, Max Michels and Andreas Michels.
Several America's Challenge veterans will be back this year. Among them is the always-exciting American/Polish entry of Andy Cayton and Krzysztof Zapart, who won in 2019 with a dramatic flight deep into the Canadian wilderness. Benoit Pelard and Benoit Peterle, the French team that finished third in 2019, hopes to improve on that result. Four-time America's Challenge champions Peter Cuneo and Barbara Fricke, two-time champions Mark Sullivan and Cheri White, and two-time competitors Brian Duncan and Brenda Cowlishaw round out the field.
The Balloon Fiesta's America's Challenge website, https://balloonfiesta.com/America's Challenge, and the YB Tracking app for Android and iPhones (free to download) will feature live satellite-based tracking of the balloons' positions and race updates throughout the competition. The web site also includes statistics, race records, and team information.
Use this back button to return to the full list. If you want to preserve your filtered list, use your browser's back button and resubmit the form.