2008 AC Logo2008 GB Logo


Friday Summary! What a great race!    What started so slow ended fast.  Congratulations to the unofficial winners of both races. 

The British team of David Hempleman-Adams and Jonathan Mason landed safely at about 10:30 MDT (0430Z) between Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  They've flew 1,194 miles (1,922 km) before landing.  The Austrian team of Gerald Stuerzlinger and Helmut Meierhofer were second and Barbara Fricke and Peter Cuneo from the USA were third.

In the America's Challenge  Mark Sullivan from Albuquerque and Cheri White from Austin, TX  landed safely north of Iowa Falls, IA.  Mark and Cheri  flew882 miles (1,419 km) in about 68 1/2 hours. Troy Bradley and Jonathan Trappe from Raleigh, NC.  took second place and established a new duration record for the America's Challenge race.  The old record of 67.25 hours was set by Sullivan and White in 2002.  They beat that record by 9 minutes.

Phil McNutt and Phil Bryant provisionally are third,

This also appears to be the first time that a British team has won the Gordon Bennett Race.   Look for the race to be hosted in England in 2010.   Congratulations again to all of the team for a great race.

Thursday Night Update -  What a great day.  For those that wait good things will come-was the theme of the day.  It is pretty amazing that just 24 hours ago it looked like this race was over.   With a little help of a new weather systems the teams at the back are now up front and racing away.   Today we saw speeds aloft at 40-60 mph so the teams lagging behind the leaders were able to wipe out the leaders progress.   It will be interesting to see if the remaining teams will go 4 nights to win either of these events.   I spoke to Phil MacNutt today and he said they had 7 bags of sand left.  They could have gone another day if they were extremely careful with their ballast.   He was happy with their effort but said he knew they would not be in first place at the end of the day.  With the high flight speeds his 150 mile lead was wiped in in just a few hours of flying and his team has dropped from first to third.  Tomas Hora's team was in the same boat.   A large lead obliterated in just a few hours with the change of wind speed.   If you like gas ballooning the GB and AC races have offered just about every possible flight situation.    

Thursday Morning Update - Our two leaders have landed but everyone else is still flying.  Tomas Hora and Volker Loeschorn have landed as well as John Wallace and Kevin Brielmann.   Both were leading their race at the time.  Those that have been hanging back looks like they have caught the low pressure system and jet stream and they are moving quickly to the north.    Do they have enough ballast to keep flying and make a difference in the race results?   This has been a great strategy race.   We are still looking for who will land this morning.   Does anyone in the pack have enough left in the tank to fly another day and take this race from Thomas Hora or Phil MacNutt's team who is currently leading the AC?

Wednesday Evening Update -   Well things are getting interesting.   Who will land and who will fly through the night is the question.   It has been a steady day with wind speeds from 3 mph up to about 30 mph. 

Tomas Hora and Volker Loeschorn are leading the GB at this time and in a good position to go another night.  They have traveled 80 miles farther than teams in either race.   With the slow airspeeds that is a good lead that will be difficult to make up. 

In the America's Challenge John Wallace and Kevin Brielmann are still slugging it out with Phil MacNutt and Phil Bryant.  After 43 hours in the air they are less than 2 miles apart in terms of the distance from the launch site.

Here is the latest HySplit if they fly through the night.  Looks like they may make it to Missouri.  All tracks lead East!

Wednesday HySplit 10082008

Wednesday Morning Update -  Looks like the wind speed has picked up a little during the night.  The flight tracks have been right on the money with the HySplit information.   As the wind speed picks up will we quickly determine who has good ballast or not.    Those running short will be forced to land sometime today probably before dark.  The sand ballast carried is used to control the ascent and decent of these aircraft and  is necessary to insure a safe landing.  Having at least 6 bags (25-30lbs each) will allow the crew to make more than one controlled attempt to land the balloon. Some may go through the night and land in the morning.  If they have been really good on ballast conservation they may make it until Friday before landing.

 It is shaping up to be a very interesting race.     Gasballooning.net spoke to Richard Abuzzo.  He indicated he had a silver dollar size hole/tear at the height of the deflation port in his envelope and they could hear gas hissing  through the tear during  the quiet of the night which forced them to land.  That is unfortunate because Richard and Carol are fierce competitors.  You never want to see a team be forced to end a race due to equipment problems.   It is all part of flying Gas Balloons! 

We will try to get a new Hy Split to see if the direction has changed over the night.


Tuesday Night Update.   - One GB Team has landed. The Swiss Team of Max Krebs and Walter Vollenwieder has landed after 17 hours 30 minutes / 19 miles and One AC Team has landed.   Richard Abruzzo and Carol Davis have landed  after 9 hours 57 minutes / 37 miles. 

The tracks have been very slow all day and appear they will continue that way through Wednesday.   The  flight paths they may take over the next two days are shown in the current Hysplit.    I was told the teams are a little "Cranky" due to the slow speeds. The flight trajectories will be slow until Wednesday night then they will take off to the north.   With a little luck they can make it to the US / Canadian border in the next 60 -70 hours. As of 5:45 pm CST the balloon farthest from the launch site had traveled only 97 miles in a little over 20 hours.   

Hysplit 1072008


Tuesday Morning Update.  - Very Slow Night.  8 hours in with the average travel 3-4 miles per hour.  Most team within30 - 40 miles of the launch site.  This is the speed you want when you land.  It is not much fun during the race because the scenery never really changes.  

Monday Update:   The race will begin tonight.    My sources are saying it is breezy on the field and this will delay the launch until about 8 or 9:00 pm.   The projected tracks are not very good.   Hopefully they have changed since this update on Saturday.    It looks like a slow flight to Colorado ,Nebraska or Kansas. 

2008 AC Flight Path



Weather Update.   Sunday will be raining so no chance of a launch due to t-storms in the area.  Weather is looking like better on Monday and very good for a Tuesday launch.   Issues they may face:  If they launch Monday the winds may push them slowly south towards the Mexico border.   This will result in a very short race because they can not cross the border.  Other obstacles created from a southerly track will include the No Fly zones at some of the Military bases in that direction.  

If a Tuesday launch is selected teams will have to take a slow track and wait for the easterly winds to develop Wednesday or Thursday.   Either way it looks like a slow first day once it begins. Tuesday is shaping up for the best chance to get out of New Mexico.  Good luck to all the teams.   Gasballooning.net is looking forward to the launch of these two great races.  We will let you know what we hear and keep you up to date.

Breaking News:   The 2008 Gordon Bennett and America's Challenge Gas Balloon races that were scheduled to begin Saturday night Oct 4, 2008 have been delayed due to an approaching  frontal boundary.   For the safety of all teams the organizers have decided to delay the start of the race until the frontal boundary clears the area.  

The start of race will be delayed until Monday Oct 6, 2008 or Tuesday Oct. 7, 2008.

 Gasballooning.net is waiting for the next weather update.  

For live tracking of the 2008 race go to the following web site:  http://www.balloonfiesta.com/Gas/tracking/

The 2009 Gordon Bennett will be held in September 2009 in Geneva Switzerland!