America's Challenge Launch Anticipated Saturday October 1
September 30, 2022
9/30/2022 5 PM MDT/2300 UTC
The eight America's Challenge teams are safely in Albuquerque and eagerly anticipating the 25th America's Challenge distance race for gas balloons. The launch window for the race opens at 6 PM Saturday, October 1 (0000 UTC Sunday, October 2), and race officials anticipate a launch sometime Saturday evening. The Twilight Twinkle balloon glow is also scheduled for Saturday evening, providing a double header for Balloon Fiesta guests.
At the opening briefing, meteorologist Randy Lefevre told the teams that forecast trajectories in the middle and high altitudes should take the balloons to the north and northeast, towards the Dakotas and Minnesota and possibly into Canada. Race officials are closely watching weather in the Albuquerque area for possible convective activity (thunderstorms) and showers during the afternoon hours that could delay the inflation. Lefevre believes the best combination of weather for the launch in Albuquerque and downrange in the direction the balloons should travel will occur Saturday evening. A decision on the timing of the launch is expected at a 12 PM (1800 UTC) briefing Saturday.
Also during the briefing, Bert Padelt, a member of the American team in the most recent Coupe Gordon Bennett, drew the launch order for the teams, which is always determined by random draw. It is:
1. Balthasar Wicki and Benni Eimers (Switzerland/Germany)
2. Peter Cuneo and Barbara Fricke (USA)
3 Andy Cayton and Krzysztof Zapart (USA/Poland)
4. Wilhelm Eimers and Sebastian Eimers (Germany)
5: Mark Sullivan and Cheri White (USA)
6. Brian Duncan and Brenda Cowlishaw (USA)
7. Benoit Pelard and Benoit Peterle, France
8. Max Michels and Andreas Michels, Germany
We will post regular updates to this site. Once the race begins, you mayt follow the action via live tracking on the website and via the free YB tracking app on your favorite mobile device.