Team 5, Fricke-Cuneo, and Team 3 , Duncan-Cowlishaw, Report Safe Landings
Posted 8:20 AM MDT (1420z)
The field still flying in the 23rd America's Challenge for gas balloons is now down to three, as more of the teams report landings. With brisk ground winds in Minnesota a low-pressure system approaching from the west, and the Canadian border nearby, teams are taking advantage of generally calmer early morning conditions to end their flights.
The latest teams to report landings are US competitors Team 5, Barbara Fricke and Peter Cuneo, and Team 3, Brian Duncan and Brenda Cowlishaw. Barbara and Peter landed just to the northeast of Princeton, MN; Peter reports they landed at about 10 knots, all is well, and their crew is nearby. Brian and Brenda landed safely just south of Hibbing, MN, after a stellar America's Challenge debut (and gas balloon racing debut!) that had them dueling it out with some of the top teams in the world.
That leaves three teams still aloft. At this writing, the two French teams are neck and neck distance-wise and approaching the Canadian border. Team 7 (Benoit Pelard and Benoit Peterle) are swapping the lead back and forth with Team 2 (Eric Decellieres and Vincent Leys), who are paralleling the north coast of Lake Superior. The third team still flying, the USA's Andy Cayton and Poland's Krzysztof Zapart, have been lagging behind the other teams and flying a separate course further west since the start of the race, ready to sneak up on the leaders.
We'll keep you posted as the race gets down to the nitty-gritty, as they say in the USA. Stay tuned!
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