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America's Challenge

The America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race was founded by the Balloon Fiesta in 1995 due to the vision and efforts of Mark Sullivan, former Balloon Fiesta President and recipient of the Montgolfier Diplome (one of ballooning's highest honors), who saw the need for America to be identified with the world's most prestigious ballooning sport.

The America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race is modeled after the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett, but  it differs from the older event in allowing balloons from all countries, without limits on the number of entries from each.   The team that travels the longest distance wins.

2014 America's Challenge

2013 America's Challenge

2013 Gas Balloon Tracking

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Gas Balloon News & updates

Three European Teams Take On U.S. Veterans
Official results have now been released for the 18th America’s Challenge distance race for gas balloons, confirming that Team 1, Peter Cuneo and Barbara Fricke, are the winners. 

The last balloon aloft in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta’s 18th America’s Challenge distance race for gas balloons has made a safe landing about four miles north of White River in Ontario, Canada.

For most of the night, apparent America’s Challenge winners Peter Cuneo and Barbara Fricke have been transiting Lake Superior.  They’ve now been in the air more than 58 hours and have flown about 1,360 miles (2,185 km).

 

One balloon remains aloft in the 18th America’s Challenge distance race for gas balloons.

The Command Center has just received word that Team 5, Phil Bryant and Andy Cayton, have landed safely near Long Prairie, Minnesota. Their only problem? Mosquitoes at the landing site!

Mark Sullivan and Cheri White (Team 4), the leaders in the America’s Challenge through most of the race, have just reported a safe landing east of Alexandria, Minnesota.

The next few hours will be critical ones in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta’s 18th America’s Challenge race for gas balloons.

Be careful what you wish for – you might just get it! After making slow progress for the first day of the race, the three America’s Challenge balloons still flying are screaming along at near-freeway speeds.

“It’s anybody’s race” is almost a cliché – but with the 18th America’s Challenge distance race for gas balloons, with the top two teams flying neck and neck and a third lurking ready to pounce, it really is anybody’s race to win.

While America slept, the complexion of the America’s Challenge race has changed dramatically – from a seeming one-team race to a neck and neck battle between two teams with Albuquerque connections.

It’s a long, cold night in east central Colorado for the four America’s Challenge teams remaining aloft as they journey northeastward toward Nebraska in what is fast becoming a very competitive race; only 40 miles separate the four teams still flying. A fifth team is now out of the race. John Kugler and Bert Padelt (Team 3) have safely landed near Springfield, CO.

Things are percolating along for the five teams in the 18th America’s Challenge distance race for gas balloons as they progress relatively slowly across northeastern New Mexico and southeastern Colorado. At this writing, it’s been a couple of hours since the phone has rung in the Command Center, an indication that things are going well aloft.

The weather gurus told the America’s Challenge teams that their first night aloft would be s-l-o-w . . . an exercise in patience as they seemed to go nowhere.  They weren’t kidding.

Five balloons are headed slowly northeastward out of Albuquerque, after a picture-perfect beginning to the 18th America’s Challenge distance race for gas balloons.

The five America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race teams are reading their equipment and preparing to go to Balloon Fiesta Park for inflation and a journey that may take the balloons into the Midwest and Canada.

America’s Challenge Event Director John Petrehn has just announced a one-day postponement in the launch of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta America’s Challenge distance race for gas balloons.
Five teams, ten pilots, one goal . . . to fly safely the longest distance from Balloon Fiesta Park and emerge triumphant in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta’s 18th America’s Challenge for gas balloons.  Launch is scheduled for approximately 6 PM on Saturday, October 5 from Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta Park.  The launch is half of a spectacular Balloon Fiesta double-header which also includes the Twilight Twinkle Glow for hot air balloons.

Most of the competitors in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta’s 18th America’s Challenge cross-country race for gas balloons are in Albuquerque this evening, preparing their equipment and supplies for their journey. Destination? Unknown.

News Archives

Archive of Race Teams (PDFs)

Archive of Results (PDFs)


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