America's Challenge Weather Delays Continue
October 2, 2022
Sunday, October 2, 2022 1700 MDT (2300 UTC)
Why are these people smiling? Certainly not because of the unstable weather that continues to plague the 25th America's Challenge distance race for gas balloons.
At a 3:00 PM MDT briefing (2100 UTC), after another review of the weather, the decision was made to delay the race at least another day. The weather issues -- monsoonal moisture with potential rain, thunderstorms, and outflow wind guests -- are still a problem during the early part of the flight track as the balloons transit the mountainous terrain northeast of Albuquerque. High surface winds generated by a low-level jet stream through the western Great Plains also are an issue and could make it difficult for pilots to land 24-36 hours into the race. In the interest of safety, Event Director Sam Parks and his team therefore decided to postpone the race again to wait for better weather.
That better weather is expected to arrive Tuesday into Wednesday, as a low pressure system that has been spinning in the northern Rockies and Great Plains finally begins to break down and move out of the way. The race's launch window remains open through Wednesday evening MDT. The next briefing is scheduled for 2 PM MDT (2000 UTC) on Monday, October 3.
Meanwhile, the teams are taking advantage of the delay relax and rest. They also posed for the traditional class picture: The pilots scheduled to compete include, back row, left to right: Mark Sullivan and Cheri White, USA; Andreas Michels and Max Michels, Germany; Brian Duncan, USA; Andy Cayton, USA; Krzysztof Zapart, Poland; Benoit Pelard and Benoit Peterle, France. In the front row: Sebastian Eimers and Wilhelm Eimers, Germany; Benni Eimers, Germany; Balthasar Wicki, Switzerland; Brenda Cowlishaw, USA; Barbara Fricke and Peter Cuneo, USA.
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta events scheduled for the evening of October 2 -- the Balloon Glow, aerial drones, Team Fastrax jumps, and fireworks -- are still on schedule. The mornings have been flyable and the hot air events spectacular!