America's Challenge Champions Win Gordon Bennett, World Title
Congratulations to Switzerland’s Laurent Sciboz and Nicolas Tieche, the 2017 America’s Challenge champions, who are the apparent victors in the just completed Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett. Their spectacular flight of 1102.79 miles (1,774.77 km) ended early this morning on the Danube River delta in Romania, just south of the Ukraine border. They were in the air approximately 83 hours and landed within meters of the Black Sea.
Unofficial results show another Swiss team, two-time world champions Kurt Frieden and Pascal Witprachtiger, in second place. They were aloft more than 89 hours and flew 1,087 mi. (1749.57 km), also landing on the shores of the Black Sea. Third place goes to nine-time world champion Vincent Leys and Christophe Houver from France, who flew 1,068 miles (1717.97 km) and were aloft more than 90 hours.
All of the Gordon Bennett teams have now safely landed. Seven of the 20 teams flew into or through a fourth night aloft – almost unheard of in a 1,000m gas balloon race – in what turned out to be a very tactical competition. For the first 36 hours there was almost no wind – a maddening thing to deal with in a distance race. The teams that were able to save ballast through those first 36 hours and then avoid other problems (equipment failures, air traffic control issues) once the winds picked up were the ones that ultimately prevailed.
The Gordon Bennett is considered to be the world championships of distance gas ballooning. We congratulate all of the competitors and officials on a race that will be one for the history books. We look forward to welcoming many of the pilots and officials involved in the Gordon Bennett (see our previous post) to Albuquerque and the America’s Challenge in a couple of weeks.
See results from the Gordon Bennett on their event web page (click on Live Tracking).
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