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Winning Team Flies 867 Miles In Gas Balloon Race

Peter Cuneo and Barbara Fricke of United States flew 1,395 km (867 miles) and won the 21st America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race. Five teams took part in the long-distance ballooning competition that launched from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta this month. Krzysztof Zapart and Bazyli Dawidziuk of Poland came in second, and Bert Padelt and Noah Forden of United States secured the third place.

Mark Sullivan could not fly due to medical reasons, so he and co-pilot Cheri White withdrew from the race just before launch.

Peter Cuneo and Barbara Fricke launching, Oct 6. 2016
America’s Challenge winners Peter Cuneo and Barbara Fricke launching on Oct. 6, 2016

Results: 21st America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race

First Place—Team 5 from United States—Pilot Peter Cuneo; Co-Pilot Barbara Fricke
Launch Date, Time 7 Oct.2016, 6:06 UTC time
Flight Distance  1,394.968 km (867 miles)
Flight Duration 54 hours, 39 minutes
Destination; day and time reached at Monroe City, Missouri, Oct. 9th Sunday, at 12:45 (UTC time)
Flight route First several hours in Rio Grande Valley, then flew northeast, veering slightly into the Texas panhandle and Oklahoma, then toward Kansas State and Missouri
Balloon’s name Foxtrot Charlie
Second Place— Team 1 from Poland—Pilot Krzysztof Zapart; Co-Pilot Bazyli Dawidziuk
Launch Date, Time 7 Oct.2016, 5:49 UTC
Flight Distance  1,081.850 km (672 miles)
Flight Duration 37 hours, 22 minutes
Destination; day and time reached Smiley, east of San Antonio, Texas, on Oct. 8th, Saturday, at 19:11 (UTC time)
Flight route High and fast out of Rio Grande valley and Sandia Mountains, east toward Texas panhandle, Oklahoma, and south toward south and east Texas; ran out of flying room
Balloon’s name Misia
Third Place —Team 2 from United States–Pilot Bert Padelt; Co-Pilot Noah Forden
Launch Date, Time 7 Oct.2016, 5:56 UTC time
Flight Distance 690.291 km (429 miles)
Flight Duration 31 hours 10 minutes
Destination; day and time reached North of Dodge City, Hanston, Kansas State, on Oct. 8th, Saturday at 13:06 (UTC time)
Flight route High and fast out of Rio Grande Valley and Sandia Mountains, then northeast toward Texas panhandle, Oklahoma, and Kansas State
Balloon’s name One Leg Out
Fourth Place —Team 6 from France—Pilot Benoit Pelard; Co-Pilot Laurent Lajoye
Launch Date, Time 7 Oct.2016, 6:10 UTC time
Flight Distance 266.223 km (166 miles)
Flight Duration 15 hours, 6 minutes
Destination; day and time reached Navajo (Diné) reservation, White Ruin, Arizona, on Oct. 7th, Friday, at 21:16 (UTC time)
Flight route First several hours in Rio Grande Valley, then flew west toward Arizona
Balloon’s name Marie Marvingt
Fifth Place–Team 4 from United States–Pilot Phillip Bryant; Co-Pilot Mike Emich
Launch Date, Time 7 Oct.2016, 6:02 UTC time
Flight Distance 24.186 km (15 miles)
Flight Duration 8 hours, 13 minutes
Destination; day and time reached Bernalillo, New Mexico, Oct. 7th Friday at 14:15 (UTC time)
Flight route First several hours in Rio Grande Valley; ended flight early toward north of Albuquerque
Balloon’s name Here We Go Again

 

Team 3 from United States–Pilot Mark Sullivan; Co-pilot  Cheri White

Withdrew before launch for medical reasons

All times mentioned are Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is four hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), five hours ahead of Central Daylight Time (CDT), six hours ahead of Mountain Daylight Time (MDT) and eight hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).

2016 Teams: Back row, L to R: Laurent Lajoye, Benôit Pelard, Mike Emich, Phil Bryant, Cheri White, Mark Sullivan, Noah Forden, Bert Padelt. Front row, L to R: Krzysztof Zapart, Bazyli Dawidzuik, Barbara Fricke, Peter Cuneo.
2016 Teams: Back row, L to R: Laurent Lajoye, Benôit Pelard, Mike Emich, Phil Bryant, Cheri White, Mark Sullivan, Noah Forden, Bert Padelt. Front row, L to R: Krzysztof Zapart, Bazyli Dawidzuik, Barbara Fricke, Peter Cuneo.
Hydrogen Gas Balloons -the aircrafts for America's Challenge long distance race
Hydrogen Gas Balloons-the aircrafts for “America’s Challenge,” a long-distance gas balloon race

Please stay tuned for our upcoming feature about the excitement and challenges in the race!

Links: AIBF Website Tracking Information
          AIBF Final Results  
          AIBF’s America’s Challenge 

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We are making changes and  apologize for any inconvenience. Thank you for your patience.