All Nine Teams Still Flying as America's Challenge Begins Second Day
Posted 8:00 PM (1500z)
It has been a quiet, routine day in the America’s Challenge Command Center, which usually means it has also been a routine day – as routine as it gets in a gas balloon race – for the nine international teams in the America’s Challenge distance race for gas balloons.
The teams continue to ride fast winds to the northeast, heading through Nebraska roughly towards Sioux Falls, SD and Minneapolis, MN. Winds in this area, in advance of a cold front and large weather system to the west, are quite strong; at this writing most of the teams are clocking in excess of 40 MPH (64.4 KPH). It is now dark in the U.S., and given the lack of light and the wind speeds, it is likely all of the teams will remain aloft through the night.
The next big decision point in the race will be at sunrise tomorrow morning in the U.S. Central Time Zone, approximately 7 AM (6 AM MDT, 1200z), when teams make the decision to keep flying or to land once they have enough light to see. They consider a number of factors in making that decision, including weather forecasts, the amount of remaining ballast (sand, required for maneuvering and landing), and their own physical state.
We have received some stunning photos and videos from the pilots during the day, and will be sharing those with you as soon as we compile them tonight. Meanwhile, we would note several teams have Facebook pages where they are posting photos and short messages:
- https://facebook.com/TeamAUT2/ -- Christian Wagner and Thomas Lewetz, Austria. They have sent us some incredible photos and videos (Team 8)
- https://facebook.com/FlyGas/ - Cheri White and Mark Sullivan (Team 9): Ditto.
- https://facebook.com/groups/LeGrainDeFolieEnAmerique/ - Eric Decellieres and Vincent Leys, France (Team 2)
- https://facebook.com/PadeltForden - Noah Forden and Bert Padelt (Team 4)
- https://facebook.com/fcgasballooning/ -- Peter Cuneo and Barbara Fricke (Team 5)
- https://facebook.com/GasBalloonTeamNels-Baird -- Al Nels and Andy Baird (Team 6)
As the race continues, you can follow live tracking and receive regular updates from the race Command Center 24/7 at the America’s Challenge website, https://balloonfiesta.com/Americas-Challenge-Live. On the website, by clicking on a balloon, you can view an altitude profile of the balloon’s track, and can view as many as four teams’ data simultaneously. To follow the race on a mobile device, download the YB Tracking app (it’s free!) onto your favorite mobile device and subscribe to Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (also free).
We would note that the tracking page on the Balloon Fiesta website is now reporting distances in miles, which is the standard in the U.S. Altitude is still being reported in meters: 1 meter = approximately 3.28 feet, so to U.S. observers used to seeing altitude indicated in feet, the balloons are actually more than three times higher than the distance in meters suggests. On the YB tracking app, distances are still being reported in kilometers, the official measure used to determine distances in the America's Challenge.
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