Gas balloon teams reach Canada in annual distance contest
Spectators watch as hot air balloons liftoff at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (Jerry Larson/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP)
The Associated Press
Published Saturday, October 12, 2019 8:44AM EDT
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Polish balloon pilot Krzysztof Zapart and American teammate Andy Cayton are the apparent winners of the 2019 America's Challenge gas balloon race.
The team crossed the Canadian border and landed Thursday just south of Hudson Bay, having travelled more than 1,600 miles (nearly 2,600 kilometres) after launching from Albuquerque earlier this week.
The annual contest occurs during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which draws balloon pilots and hundreds of thousands of spectators from around the world.
America's Challenge is one of the world's premier distance races for gas balloons. The team that travels the longest distance wins.
Officials will verify flight data as part of the scoring process before crowning Zapart and Cayton this year's winners. Eight other teams competed, with the second team travelling nearly 1,330 miles (2,135 kilometres).