After I posted my Day 3 photos, the Balloon Fiesta app advised that the America’s Challenge was going to begin inflation at 5:30 p.m., and launch around 8 p.m.
The America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race is a distance races for gas balloons, modeled after the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett. 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.
We arrived around 6 p.m. and headed to the middle of the launch field. One balloon was already inflated, and a second had started inflation. As we watched over the next 3 hours, 9 gas balloons of varying shapes and sizes inflated.
As night came on, we waited for the announcement of the launch.
Around 8:45 p.m., the announcement came and they let the spectators and media stream over to the stage.
Launch time (by team)
Once the announcement was made, no time was wasted getting the gas balloons in the air.
Follow the America’s Challenge race participants here: https://balloonfiesta.com/Americas-Challenge
For a quick news video, local Albuquerque news station KRQE has a roughly 2 minute video (our video will be posted later): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwhgoY04pjo