Ready To Go the Distance: America's Challenge Teams Prepare for Monday Launch
Posted 2:00 pm (2000z)
The formal briefings are completed, the field is being prepared, and the nine international teams in the America’s Challenge distance race for gas balloons are in the final stages of preparing for their flights across America.
The teams are in the process of moving their equipment to Balloon Fiesta Park. Over the next few hours, they will be preparing their balloons for flight and going through their checklists to make sure they have everything with them they will need for the two or three days they will remain aloft. Actual inflation should begin around 5:30 PM (2330z), with the launch scheduled to begin at 8 PM (0200z).
Parking and admission to Balloon Fiesta Park for this event is free! Live coverage of the launch on Balloon Fiesta Live! begins at 6:30 PM; click on this link or view it on the Balloon Fiesta's Facebook or YouTube channels.
At the final race briefing at 1 PM MDT (1900z), meteorologist Randy Lefevre advised that surface conditions at launch should be favorable, with 5-8 knot winds. The trajectory forecasts are quite consistent and indicate the balloons should travel north-northeast across Kansas, up into Minnesota, and on into Canada, with a possibility of reaching Hudson’s Bay. There is also an option for a higher-level trajectory headed towards Lake Michigan.
Once the race begins, you can follow the balloons’ progress across America at America’s Challenge-Live. Or, for mobile devices, download the YB tracking app (free) and subscribe to Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (also free, it’s possible the name will change to America’s Challenge). Some of the teams will also have social media sites where you can follow their progress, and we will post a list of those as we get them.
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