America's Challenge Launch Postponed
Posted 6:15 am (1215z)
The launch of the 23rd America’s Challenge distance race for gas balloons is being postponed due to weather concerns in Texas and Oklahoma, in the direction the balloons would travel if the race began as scheduled Saturday evening.
Weather in Albuquerque at Balloon Fiesta Park is good, with huge crowds on the field anticipating this morning’s mass ascension. Weather tonight at the launch site is also expected to be great for tonight’s Twilight Twinkle Glow, and would make for good launch conditions for gas balloons.
However, forecasts show that with a Saturday night launch, the balloons would be in Texas and Oklahoma late Sunday afternoon, where the weather is expected to be windy at best and stormy at worst. Pilots could face the choice of having to fly into thunderstorms or trying to land in very high winds, either of which would pose a danger to the pilots’ safety.
Race officials stressed at yesterday’s general briefing that their number one consideration in determining the timing of the launch is safety, Postponement of the competition to Sunday or Monday should allow the pilots the opportunity to fly a fun, strategic race, with a variety of possible trajectories and options for longer flights.
The next briefing has been scheduled for noon on Sunday, October 6, at which time a decision will be made about whether to attempt a Sunday evening launch in conjunction with the Balloon Fiesta’s balloon glow.
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