Decision Time! Teams Ponder Whether to Fly Through the Night
Posted Sunday, October 3, 5:00 PM MDT (2300Z)
As sunset nears in Texas and New Mexico, the three America’s Challenge gas balloon teams still aloft have a big decision to make. Do they want to keep flying through the night to try to gain greater distance and keep their chances of winning alive? Or, will they decide to land, and avoid another very cold night aloft?
This “cold night aloft” thing is not to be taken lightly. At least three of the teams reported bone-chilling cold during the first night aloft. Brenda Cowlishaw and Brian Duncan (Team 3), who landed earlier today, said it was 12 degrees in their basket and even with special clothing it was simply impossible to get warm. The deep chill was a factor in their ending their flight early.
Another very large consideration will be whether they have enough ballast left to fly through the night. Ballast – sand and water being carried as expendable weight) is necessary to maneuver, and especially to ascend.
Brian and Brenda paid a visit to the Command Center a few minutes ago and shared some details about their flight. We did a short interview with them and are in the process of rendering it so we can share it with you. Watch for it in an upcoming update. But we can tell you that despite the cold, they were cheerful and had a great time on their relatively short trek to Pecos, NM.
As for the other teams, for most of the day leaders Noah Forden and Bert Padelt (Team 4) have held a very consistent, 100-mile (161 km) lead over Team 2, Mark Sullivan and Cheri White. At this writing, Team 4 has crossed into Texas and are heading roughly towards Lubbock. Meanwhile, Team 1, Barbara Fricke and Peter Cuneo, are continuing to pursue a different strategy further north and are about another 50 miles further behind.
At least one chase team is having an interesting day of it, too. Team 1’s crew, Ray and Sue Palmer, got the Command Center laugh of the day award when they texted, “Good thing it’s a slow race. Stuck . . . due to a traffic accident. We’re travelling almost as fast as the gas balloon.”
You can check up on your favorite team and follow their progress on this website, and on the YB Tracker free app – just download the app and subscribe to the America’s Challenge race.
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